The Cynicism of Systems Thinking

  • S. K. Probert


It will be argued that a diffuse cynicism permeates some recent systems thinking, i.e. the prescriptions of Total Systems Intervention (TSI); this is despite its philosophical basis in Critical Systems Thinking (CST). In some respects the concerns to be discussed are similar to some of those expressed by both Tsoukas (1992, 1993(a)) and Brocklesby (1994). The arguments herein are informed by the considerations put forward by Sloterdijk (1987) concerning the cynical condition. Such arguments also provide genealogical insights (in the Foucauldian sense) as to the question of the ready acceptability of TSI to a subset of the population of the Western world. The analysis will focus on the work of Flood and Jackson (1991), as qualified by Jackson (1993). The main discussion will be concerned with the tension between what can be termed the compelling force of the enlightenment, i.e. the need for learning, critique, and liberation to be embodied in the prescriptions of TSI, and (what can be termed as) the requisite concessions to praxis.


Management Science Ideological Commitment Important Enterprise Critical System Thinking Existential Limit 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. K. Probert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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