>Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 15:19:15 -0400 (EDT)
>From: "Stuart A. Umpleby" <email@example.com>
>Subject: Re: Singer and CSOL
>Recently I sent a message to Wlad Sachs and Bill Smith inviting one or
>both of them to talk about the work of E.A. Singer, Jr. Both replied that
>they did not find Singer's work particularly interesting. I would like
>to explain what my motivation is. Perhaps then someone can advise me on
>a productive way of proceeding.
> Churchman and Ackoff both studied with Singer at the U. of Penn.
>(Sachs and Smith studied with Ackoff at Penn.) Churchman and Ackoff say
>that Singer's most important contribution was to focus not on cause and
>effect relationships but rather on producer-product relationships. That
>is, most of science aims to identify cause and effect relationships -- A
>causes B, B causes C, etc. The example given for a producer product
>relationship is the following: An acron can produce a tree but it does
>not cause a tree. Soil, sunlight, and water are also required.
> From this philosophical background Ackoff produced a series of
>methods or recepies for how to engage in effective management. It seems
>to me that management (and perhaps social systems in general) fit the
>producer- product model better than the cause and effect model. Consider
>the recent meeting of the Federal City Council. At that meeting several
>things came together -- capable people with personal connections to DC
>leaders, people with group facilitation skills, experienced citizens, DC
>leaders, and a sense of urgency. If one element were missing, not much
>would have happened. With all present, there is at least the possibility
>of positive developments occurring. Hence, effective decision-making
>based on an accurate assessment of the consequences of alternatives (cause
>and effect modeling) is a less effective model to use than one based on
>bringing together the necessary ingredients (producer-product).
> A second element of the puzzle in my mind is my long term interest
>in why faculty members in the School of Management believe it is not
>appropriate to use the ideas we teach in the classroom in conducting our
>affairs. There seems to be something about the way we conceive of
>knowledge which makes it unavailable to us. Perhaps a producer-product
>(habits) rather than a cause and effect (thinking) way of creating and
>maintaining knowledge would make it more accessible.
> Peter Vaill, a graduate of the Harvard Business School,
>frequently repeats the HBS orthodoxy that doing management and talking
>about management are not the same thing. He believes that trying to
>structure knowledge of management in the form of science will not only
>not be effective, but is probably counterproductive. I think a
>producer-product approach could be said to subsume a cause and effect
>approach. Paying attention to the observer (second order cybernetics) is
>one way of moving from a cause and effect model to a producer-product model.
> I think it would be fun to work with our doctoral students in
>trying to produce a GWU-SBPM philosophy and theory of management. I
>think it should take into account the three dimensions that Eric Dent has
>identified -- circular rather than linear relationships, holistic rather
>than reductionistic thinking, and persectival rather than objective
>observation. I also think it needs to go beyond a narrow conception of
>science while not being vague or elusive about the epistemology being
>used. In educating managers perhaps exercises or training and drill (or
>case studies) are more effective than discussions of various theories.
>If so, does our current understanding of the nature of knowledge
>(including second order cybernetics) help to explain why this is so?
> Hence, my question is, Can Singer's work help us to develop such
>a philosophy, theory, and pedagogy of management? What other authors
>should we look at? C.S. Peirce? I welcome comments.
>S.A. Umpleby, Dept. of Mgt. Science, GWU, Wash. DC 20052 USA
>tel: 202/994-5219, fax: 202/994-5225, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Jack Hirschfeld When two hearts become one, email@example.com who could ask for anything more?