THE SYSTEMS APPROACH by C. West Churchman

THE SYSTEMS APPROACH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A discussion of rational decision-making. Churchman rejects the tinkering, ad hoc, agnostic approach to discrete problems, pointing out that the old-fashioned efficiency expert's rationalization of the part often messes up the functions of the larger system. He sees that social problems are interconnected; that the objectives of a system must be considered; and that they aren't always the professed ones (his example: cities run in the interest of the rich). But he doesn't pursue these conclusions to the point of investigating the United States or its empire as a system. Instead he describes various techniques used in a ""systems approach"" to technical decisions: information processing and program planning for better management, budgeting and cost analyses. The last section considers the relation of these new forms of rationality to human behavior and values. The attitudes of ""bleeding hearts,"" ideological anti-planners, politicians and scientists are summarized, enabling the reader to sort out his own perspective; but the book never explains the model-building essential to the systems approach. The style is down-talking. There are a number of more provocative, informative writers on these subjects, from Wilensky and Rapoport to Goffman. Churchman has also written Introduction to Operations Research (1957).

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1968
Publisher: Delacorte