APPLICATION OF SYSTEMS THEORY1Application of Systems TheoryCornelia EdgeworthGrand Cannon University: PSY 834January 22, 2014Systems psychology uses multiple systems to explore behavior influences and humanawareness. This complex network and homogenous method is based on the techniques developedby Ludwig von Bertalanffy, a prominent Austrian biologist (Von Bertalanffy, 1962). Bertalanffy APPLICATION OF SYSTEMS THEORY2was critical of traditional, linear theories and believed that science had become reductionistthrough its tendency to examine event by taking apart an entire systems to study their partsin separate entity. He wanted scientists to think in terms of influence and to study the entiresystems. His advanced views such as equifinality, refers to the ability of a system to arrive at thesame destination from different paths or conditions. The term is due to Ludwig von Bertalanffy,the founder of General Systems Theory.Von Bertalanffy voiced concern about the conservative concept of homeostasis becausehe believed that open systems were also change- or growth-seeking. He “saw the world throughthrough scientific eyes” (Brauckmann, 1999). As a scientist, he had already conceived a series oftheories that aimed to show a structure and pattern of formation among different things. In 1930he offered the “Organismic Systems Theory” (Von Bertalanffy, 1960, p. 156). This theoryattempted to explain the processes of life as a phenomenon. He insisted that individuals existbecause of a combination of different processes that work together in the formation of theorganism. He offered that these processes are systemic, yet dynamic, and complex. To illustratethis idea, Von Bertalanffy compared the organism as a machinery out in the open trying to“maintain equilibrium”.This equilibrium symbolized the individual’s struggles to survive and adapt to anenvironment, but also the internal struggles to adapt and perform that occur within the systemsthat compose the individual itself (Von Bertalanffy, 1960, p. 158-159). “It is necessary to studynot only parts and processes in isolation, but also to solve the decisive problems found inorganization and order unifying them, resulting from dynamic interaction of parts, and makingthe the behavior of the parts different when studied in isolation or within the whole.” (VonBertalanffy 1945 p. 49-50).This method identifies individuals and groups as homeostasis. Systems psychology is APPLICATION OF SYSTEMS THEORY3practiced within the realm of engineering psychology, but focuses its emphasis on affective,motivational, cognitive, and group behavioral patterns. In order to facilitate an effective systemfor all parties involved, the expectations, needs, desires, and characters of all are examined andconsidered. One of the most tried-and-true methods for analyzing the needs of individuals andorganizations is the systems model. This theory is complex, but when it is applied to the specificneeds of the client(s), it can address sundry issues.Von Bertalanffy’s general systems theory basically states that the study of all systems canbe modeled under the premise that the unification of elements will create a wholeness. Yet, theelements themselves are also creations of smaller elements which is what brings people todetermine that the processes that enable a system to form are equally complex and interactive. Asystem is a unified, complex, whole that operates as a result of the different interactions andindependent performance of each elements that form it. “The mode of operation of each of itsparts is what will ultimately decide whether the system will be deemed functional within amacrocosmic scenario” (Von Bertalanffy 1945 p. 49-50). This implies that each element thatinteracts within a system is responsible of the consequential interaction of the system amongother systems.“Ludwig von Bertalannfy observed systems through the eyes of a scientist and sociologistwho rejected the idea of mechanizing the perspective of man as a predictable entity (VonBertalanffy 1945 p. 49-50).His General Systems theory aimed to bring together an organismic view of theinteraction among the elements that form any systems. “Contrary to the idea of Reductionism,Systems theory claims that more than just a few perspectives should be taken into considerationto study the interaction of elements” (von Bertananffy, 1962 p. 14-15). The main idea of vonBertalanffy’s theory is to stay away from the notion that systems are merely a combination of APPLICATION OF SYSTEMS THEORY4parts working together. It should be noted that the parts are themselves a combination of otherparts, made up of a combination of other essential elements. Bertalannfy interpreted thecommon view of systems as people. Each is given a set of elements that ensure theirperformance, on the other hand, each element has to be studied separately, and should beassessed independently. For example, the correct study of the interaction of elements withinsystems occurs when the elements involved are viewed by their individual role within the whole.“Von Bertalanffy’s scientific approach and organismic views of systems is view in thesource of individuality, and the need to understand its complexity and to realize how they affectsystems’ (Von Bertalanffy 1945 p. 49-50). It is difficult to isolate the characteristics of eachindividual element that makes up a system. In order to understand the complex behaviors,thinking modes and rationale behind system theory one must understand the reasons behind whatrole it plays. One must not ignore the fact that complexity is everywhere, and that reducing asystem to the study of a bunch of working parts is not the way to approach the uniqueness ofeach group. This analysis of system theory serves to propose a continuous examination of items,circumstances, histories, and expectations needed to create and maintain an organized and uniquesociety.Bertanlaffy claimed to have found the way to “control the model of construction in allsciences” (Von Bertalanffy, 1949 p. 45). The theory is a qualitative analysis of the process offormation of things, to explain and understand the establishment of relationships between“objects and phenomena” (Von Bertalanffy, 1949 p. 45). The concept of the GST was construedfrom Aristotle’s “the whole is more than the sum of its parts” stating that this is a definition ‘ofthe basic system problem that is still valid’ (Von Bertalanffy, 1975 p. 149). APPLICATION OF SYSTEMS THEORY5Bertalanffy systems concepts can influence the field of coaching and consultingpsychology by assessment, evaluation, and intervention to change. The consultation in consultingpsychology is looked upon as a relationship among professionals and other relevant persons forthe purpose of helping and assisting the consultees. The main objective behind consultingpsychology is to help both the consultee and the client system in a specific way, dealing with thework-related problems. This helps both the individuals and organizations in becoming moreefficient, competent and effective.Bertalanffy’ systems theory has evolved from a rather single dimensional form oftreatment to a multi-faceted method that is applied to many different situations. It strives to helpthe members of the group attain positive, secure relationships in order to improve their wellbeing and inter-relational experiences. The core of both coaching and consulting rests in therelationship that develops with the individual. It can also move toward building a morecollaborative relationship by developing trust with both the individual and the organization. Thismodel employs systems theory to improve productivity or to streamline the relationship betweenan organization and its environment. These ideas include the concept of a system as more thanthe sum of its parts. It emphasis on systems as subsystems of larger systems which is focus onrelationships. Consulting and coaching share many characteristics. The core of both coachingand consulting rests in the relationship that develops with the client, whether the client is anindividual, the CEO, a group or the organization.References APPLICATION OF SYSTEMS THEORY6Bertalanffy, L. Von (1950). “The theory of open systems in physics and biology”, Science, (1)11, 23-29.Bertalanffy, L. Von (1968). General systems theory: Foundations,Development, Application.New York: George Braziller.Bertalanffy, L. Von (1950). “The History and Status of General Systems Theory”. In G.J. Klir(Ed,): Trends in general systems theory. New York: Wiley-Interscience.
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