Systemic solutions for systemic problems

  • Stuart Umpleby


The systems sciences and cybernetics emerged in the years after World War II. These fields created many new approaches to engineering and management and contributed new ideas to existing academic fields. The new fields also identified similar concepts across a range of fields and began to create a general theory of systems. In addition the systems sciences created a variety of methods for managing complex systems, for example logistics, operations research and computer simulations. In the 1970s there was concern about population and environment balance. Currently there is increasing concern with governance, since the rate of presentation of problems seems to be greater than the ability of our institutions to manage them. This paper will discuss the history of systems science and cybernetics, the questions formulated and the solutions proposed, the difficulties encountered in finding a home within contemporary universities and some exciting lines of research now underway.


General systems theory cybernetics systems engineering complexity epistemology 


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During its preparation this article was discussed with Karl H. Mueller, who offered helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Systems Engineering Society of China and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, School of BusinessGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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