In Search of General Systems Theory
2016, Rousseau, David, Billingham, Julie, Wilby, Jennifer, Blachfellner, Stefan
The search for a General Systems Theory (GST) formally became a scientific enterprise with the founding of the Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory (living on today as the International Society for the Systems Sciences) in 1954. Many scientific advances have been made towards a GST, but GST is still incomplete and there is a rich ongoing debate about the nature, structure and value of GST. In this paper we argue that the general theory of a discipline has a generic structure, which can be inferred by attending to the process by which disciplines build up their knowledge base. We develop a model of this generic structure and then use it to envision the structure and scope of GST. This provides a principled baseline for assessing the developmental status of GST, planning work towards its completion, and defending the potential value of GST.