Organisational Identity LO11401

Bob Williams (
Fri, 13 Dec 1996 09:09:05 +1200

Replying to LO11372 --

>From: Michael McMaster <>
>Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1996 00:58:22 +0000
>Mark sharing his wonderful speculations about "organisational
>consciousness" spurs me to share my own view that it already exists.
>If you look at a large organisation, can't you often see that it has a
>vision and mission of its own? Might this explain why most of those
>vision statement exercises don't go anywhere - because they were made by
>some individuals far to independently of the organisation's own "vision"
>or intentions?
>One of the things to be aware of in pursuit of this idea of organisations
>having consciousness, etc in their own right is that it will not look
>exactly like (very much like?) how these manifest in individuals.

Not wanting to throw yet more jargon into this interesting debate, I am
reminded of the distinction made in systems theory between "purposeful"
and "purposive".

In general terms, a "purposeful" system responds to a stated and conscious
purpose, analogus perhaps to the missions, goals, visions and all that
stuff developed consciously by one or perhaps all the actors. A
"purposive" system behaves as if it had a purpose of its own - quite
distinct from the intentional purposes of its actors. I have used the
concepts a lot to guide me through difficult times, although they are not
without their problems (like who ascribes the purpose, from which
viewpoint, and using what information). Given the historical debt systems
thinking owes to ecology, I guess that the similarities between
organisational, ecologogical and systems theories is hardly surprising.

[Host's Note: Bob, or anyone else: Who's distinction is this? Can you
provide a reference? This is a distinction that I try to make for groups
and I like the way you've stated it. ...Rick]




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Bob Williams <>

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