Reductionism and Systems Theory Controversy
Though reductionism and systems theory have already helped in making significant strides in the business area, it is important to acknowledge the criticism put forward in the past years. The system theory has faced a lot of criticism, especially in its original form. One of the top critics of the theory Robert Lillianfeld criticized the theory by stating that the theory was the ideology of planners, managers, and technocratic elites.
It is mainly because systems theory as a social doctrine was regarded as having taken an organismic approach to society. The view has a long tradition that can be traced back to the thoughts and religious practices of the Hindus during the medieval period in the west. Incorporating this organism view in the theory is believed to have been attractive to intellectuals who saw themselves as the brain and the nerve centers of the organism. The common people in the society were seen as the cells of the organism since they had no say in the running of the organism. Scientists have worked effortlessly to try to save the image presented by this theory by seeking to answer questions relating to the theory such as: is the image presented by the theory true, what are its probable social consequences and what can be done to the current image.
There is no doubt that systems theory may often be useful and provocative to treat problems in a variety of spheres in system terms. Although the system image of the world may not be necessarily true, other non-systematic images may prove equally true. Thus, this would further demerit the theory since it implies that the society seen as a totality in the theory poses no intrinsic unity and is an aggregate of small communities continually emerging and dispersing hence any image of unity would be a myth.
Hoo is another critic who has analyzed the theory in-depth and criticized the theory, especially in its role in planning, management, and government. She criticized the theory for the use of inappropriate research methods. She mainly contested the use of the quantitative model claiming that it was an inappropriate use of research tools for the situation at hand. According to her, the theory did not leave enough room for the human factor. It is mainly because people can act in ways not predicted by the system.
However, in spite of the heavy criticism facing the theory, it is important to note that the theory gave rise to the setting up of elaborate and effective management practices in workplaces. Application of the same theory in modern times can help guide nowadays managers to understand the complex workings of managing systems while at the same time implementing other concepts.