Stafford Beer in memoriam – ‘an argument of change’ three decades on.

Thomas, Rod and van Zwanenberg, Nigel (2005) Stafford Beer in memoriam – ‘an argument of change’ three decades on. Kybernetes. The International Journal of Systems & Cybernetics, 34 (5). pp. 637-651. ISSN 0368-492X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03684920510595337

Abstract

Purpose
This paper is written in memory of the late Stafford Beer. The paper engages with only one dimension of the whole man: Stafford Beer as the diagnostician and prognostician of the social conditions that he so keenly observed.
Design/methodology/approach
The paper revisits a talk that Stafford Beer gave, over three decades ago, to administrators of the UK National Health Service (NHS). It uses the content of the talk, entitled “Health and Quiet Breathing”, to diagnose the problems that have been encountered in the development of NHS information management strategies. The paper concludes with some brief personal recollections of Stafford Beer as a friend and as a teacher.
Findings
The paper finds Stafford Beer’s managerial cybernetics to be a useful tool in understanding many of the problems that have beset NHS information management strategies: lack of operational research, problems in the commodification of information, financial scandal, and bureaucracy. In its examination of these issues, the paper recognises Stafford Beer’s status as a legatee of not only Norbert Wiener, but also of the great philosophers.
Value
The paper demonstrates how the problem-orientation of Stafford Beer’s managerial cybernetics continues to be fresh and relevant to today’s society and provides a brief portrait of him both as a friend and as a teacher.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: N200 Management studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School > Business and Management
Depositing User: Rod Thomas
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2012 12:53
Last Modified: 10 May 2017 18:01
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/9859

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