This paper suggests cybernetic strategies for improving organizational control and information systems. The suggestions are based on the postulates of Beer’s cybernetic Viable System Model (VSM). The VSM was based on the way the human body’s neural control system successfully manages the high degree of complexity it regularly faces. The model identifies five linked control subsystems and specifies propositions concerning their information-processing behavior. The five systems are responsible for the following key tasks: policy development, environmental matters, internal control, coordination of basic units, and the basic work of the system. The information-handling propositions focus on providing requisite capacities in (a) the communication channels linking the five control systems, (b) the transducers that carry information across system boundaries, and (c) the complexity of linked pairs of control systems. The suggested management strategies focus on designing organizations to satisfy the task differentiation, communication channel capacity, transducer capacity, and requisite complexity postulates of the model.
Direct all correspondence to Terry R. Haggerty, Faculty of Physical Education, The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada N6A 3K7.