Explain the General Systems Theory. Describe the characteristics of systems.

organizational structures

Answer: The world in which we live is full of systems. Human bodies, business organizations and galaxies are all systems. Although systems theory may appear a bit abstract, we study it for a number of important reasons;

System: A system is a collection of parts that work together harmoniously to achieve specific goals. A system normally has subsystems and functions within an environment.

Subsystem: A unit within a system that shares some or all of the characteristics of that system. An entity is a system or a subsystem depending on the perspective of the user. For example, we can view the accounting department as a subsystem of the entire organization or we can view the same accounting department as the system and the tax section within that department as the subsystem.

Environment: The world surrounding the system. The system is a subsystem of the environment.

System Theory

System components


A system has five primary components:

  1. Input (Machines, manpower, raw materials, money, time, and so on).
  2. Processes (Policies, procedures, and operations that convert data into information).
  3. Output (information in the right format, conveyed at the right time and place to the right person).
  4. Feedback (data about the performance of the system).
  5. Control (processing the feedback and taking the necessary action).

Types of system:

  1. Open system: A system with a feedback mechanism that promotes the free exchange of information between the system and external entities.
  2. Closed system: Systems that neither transmits any information to the outside world nor receives any information from the outside world. There are few, if any, closed systems in the real world.

Characteristics of systems:

  1. Every system has a purpose.
  2. Most systems have five components; input, processes, output, feedback, and control.
  3. Systems are made up of subsystems, whose goals are referred to as sub goals.
  4. The goals of a system are more important that the sub goals of its subsystems.
  5. Subsystems are guided both by their individual goals and by their relationships with other subsystems within the system.
  6. Subsystems must work together in harmony to achieve system goals.