Autopoietic Organization's Governance Supported by Information Technology

Autopoietic Organization's Governance Supported by Information Technology

Malgorzata Pankowska (University of Economics in Katowice, Poland)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch493
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Recent development in the philosophy of science makes it possible to provide fresh insights into old controversies of organization theory, such as agency vs. structure, voluntarism vs. determinism, and micro vs. macro approaches, and help refine an understanding of explanation. However, in this chapter, the system thinking approach is accepted as the basis for further consideration of autopoietic organizations. At the core of system thinking is a concept of a whole entity which can adapt and survive, within limits, in a changing environment. The entity consists of interrelated components existing for joint purposes. The synergy effect ensures that the whole entity means more than the sum of its parts.

In the chapter, organizations are human products, they can act and create effects that would not be possible, if they were merely the disaggregate actions of uncoordinated individuals. Organizations possess identifiable characteristics including particularly purposefulness and direction, stability and configuration, culture and values, goals and functions, that are often believed to be visible, comparable and measurable in the research process. Organizations are seen as interacting relatively freely with its environment much in the same way we think of biological species adapting and interacting with their surroundings in an effort to survive.

The first part of the contribution covers explanation of autopoietic organization meaning for management science, although different interpretations from other sciences are also included. The concept of autopoietic systems, known from domains such as physics, chemistry and biology, has recently gained interest to be applied to technical (i.e., computerized) systems. In the chapter, autopoietic organization can be defined as the emergence of coherent, global behavior out of the local interactions between components. This emergent organization is characterized by intrinsic autonomy, adaptability to environmental changes, and local awareness of the most important global variables.

The next part of the chapter will cover analyses of autopoiesis features, i.e., self-managing, self-referring, self-influencing, self-regulating, self-sustaining, self-producing, self-sustaining, self-recognizing, self-consciousness. Self-monitoring is vital for self-organized systems, because it allows the system to have a view on its current use and state. The mentioned above characteristics receive a new interpretation in IT environment, therefore the last part of the chapter includes analyses of IT solutions enabling the characteristics development. Particularly, the multi-agent technology will be the subject of discussions.

Next, the characteristics of autopoiesis are discussed, i.e., openness, peering, sharing and acting globally. In the chapter, Internet virtual organizations are presented as examples of autopoietic organizations e.g., Wikipedia. However, generally, social systems such as families, clubs, email discussion groups, informal subcultures within organizations, communities of practices are systems that are autopoietic in the sense that they produce and reproduce information and knowledge, and they interact in such a way that the interactions become bound with the continued autopoiesis of the components. Societies are seen as complex adaptive systems that used internal feedback processes to change their structures to better survive in a turbulent and changing environment. Therefore, the open content repositories are widely discussed as autopoietic organizations. This presentation is supplemented by the reference model of open digital library architecture.

Generally, the main objectives of the article include interpretation of works done by other authors on autopoietic organization for management science and exemplification of autopoietic organization by open content repositories.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Governance: Activities and policies which determine and ensure information mission, authority and responsibility .

Modeling: The process that enables the system developers to visualize, specify, construct and document the structure and behavior of system architecture.

Autopoiesis: Organization's ability to generate its specific components and their relations on its own.

Information Technology: The products and processes of study, design, development, implementation, support or management of computerized information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware.

Strategy of Openness: The plan and the way to develop business organization involving customers, competitors as well as all other accessible business partners.

Social Networking: The grouping of individuals into special interests groups. Traditionally social networking required face-to-face communication, but now it is developed and realized online.

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