Organisation and community LO7152
Fri, 3 May 1996 07:35:28 -0400

Replying to LO7120 --

in which some definitions of "organization" appeared, I am very partial to
the definition given by the late Sir Geoffrey Vickers. He used the word
"institution", but I see it as a synonym for another title he used:
"human systems". To quote Geoffrey:

"I find it convenient to regard institutions as structures of mutual
expectation, attached to roles which define what each of its members shall
expect from others and from himself".

When I first read this, here are the challenges I recognized:

1) What constitutes an appropriate set of roles in an organization?
2) Who studies in depth issues of role interactions?
3) On what basis are role sets defined?
4) How important is it for self-respect and self-image to have a clearly
defined role? A clearly defined set of role interactions? (They don't have
to be rigid, but they do have to be clear).
5) How important is it not to usurp roles of others?
6) How important is "mutual expectation" in institutions (organizations), in
terms of the health of the totality?
(7) By what process(es) are mutual expectations achieved? How does one know
that they are mutual?


For those unfamiliar with Sir Geoffrey, a reward awaits you in reading his
always clear, always thoughtful, always human, always deep, never
borderline nasty (unlike me) conceptualizations. I return to him when I
need to spank myself.

[Host's Note: John, could you sugest a couple of good place to start for
people interested in Sir Geoffrey's writing? ...Rick]

John N. Warfield


Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>