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System Theory Essay

General System Theory accounts for similarities in the functioning of diverse phenomena such as living organisms, machines, galaxy and organizations. All forms, from atomic particles through atoms, molecules, crystals, planets, solar system, and even galaxies may be regarded as ‘system’.

‘System’ may be referred as ‘complexes of elements standing in interaction. (Definition by Bertalanffy). The closed system is system that neither takes in nor emits matter. (only energy exchange is taken into account). The system is called an open system if there is continual input and output of both energy and matter in it.

All systems except the smallest have subsystem and all but the largest have supra system, which are their environment. Each system or subsystem have boundary. The boundary of system is the component that separates the system from its environment and filters the inputs to and the output from the system. Inputs, processes, and outputs are all stages in the system’s cycle of event.

The open system theory also emphasizes the necessary dependence of any organization upon its environment. The organization imports the input from the environment, and transforms it (through creating new products, processing materials, trains people, provide service) into some other form (with value added) as output in the production process. The output is then exported to the environment. It then becomes input for another system and the cycle and process are repeated.

Education as an Open System

The school system environment is made up of several social, economic, political institutions, which are constantly interacting and are interdependent. A subsystem is a system that exists within a larger system. Examples of subsystems within the school system are Student Council Department, Finance Office, International Office and all other people and things that are the component of the school system.

The school internal system will work together the create an effective value chain within the school system itself. A supra-system is a larger system of which a particular system is a part of it. For example the school system (including its own subsystems) is a subsystem of the National Education System/Ministries of Education.

The school system is constantly interacting with other subsystem such as government agency, financial intermediaries (bank) and other institution in the environment. Together with other system, the school system will form an effective value delivery network that will greatly contribute to the society. All system (including the school system) will have a tendency to achieve balance among many operating forces upon or within the system, it can be either –

Stationary Equilibrium – fixed point or level of balance to which the system will returns after disturbance.

Dynamic Equilibrium – Equilibrium shifts to a new position of balance after disturbance.

Every living system strives to maintain a steady state (equilibrium). It will resist a disturbance if it can, and adjust it if it must. Every system produces entropy (Second Law of Thermodynamics) but at a minimum rate when the system is in a steady state. Entropy is the tendency towards disorganization or chaos. When a system is under stress of strain (when the school internal systems do not coordinate) that it cannot resumes it steady state, the system may collapse (the university will bankrupt)

Education is the process involving the following five forms of inputs:

Human Resources – Students, teachers, administrators, bus drivers etc. Material Resources – Buildings, desks, books, pencils etc. Financial Resources – Money
Constraints – Law and Regulation, Policy, values and goals. Existing
knowledge in the society.

The production process involves mainly the teaching-learning process.

The output or products of the educational system are the educated students which now better equipped with knowledge, reasoning power, analytic skill to serve themselves and the society. The outputs will go back to the system as new inputs.

By applying appropriately the system theory to education ( i.e. by identifying the school system’s cycle of events (input, output and process), environment, subsystem and supra-system) , it is possible and easy for the educational administrator or organizational developer or manager to discover the source of problem in the organization and the total system view will facilitates him/her to search for appropriate solutions.

Q3. a) Briefly describe the elements of plan. (5M)

Develop the Plan: – Define mission, vision.
Set goals.

Translate the Plan: – Define tactical plans and objectives Develop strategy map Define contingency plans and scenarios Identify intelligence teams

Plan Operations (Lay out the operational forces needed to achieve goals): – Define operational goals and plans Select measures and targets Set stretch goals Crisis planning

Goals and plans provide a source of motivation and commitment. Planning can reduce uncertainty for employees and clarify what they should accomplish. Goals and plans guide resource allocation. Planning helps managers decide where they need to allocate resources, such as employees, money and equipment. Goals and plans are a guide to action. Planning helps managers and other employees know what actions that need to take to achieve the goal. Goals and plans set a standard of performance. Because planning and goal-setting define desired outcomes, they also establish performance criteria so managers can measure whether things are on or off track. >>>Establish accountability

Exposes blind spots – Planning provides framework to ask questions and expose blind spots. >>>Uncover new ideas and areas for growth and improvement – Planning helps to uncover new or more effective ways in delivering customer value.


The four management functions.


Planning means identifying goals for future organizational performance and deciding the tasks and use of resources needed to attain them. The primary goals of prison systems are to incapacitate inmates (to prevent escape) while providing treatment and rehabilitation. The goals can be achieved through effective supervision of inmates and prison officials and prope treatment and rehabilitation conducted by professionals.


Organizing involves assigning responsibilities and allocating resources for task accomplishment. Prison staffs are offered the responsibilities to ensure that the prison rules and regulations are complied. Inmates are also granted permission and responsibilities to make formal complaints about perceived abuse and violation of their rights. Human resources (professionals/prison staffs) and financial resources are allocated accordingly for the success of treatment and rehabilitation. (e.g addiction treatment/educational services/industry work programs)


Leading is the use of influence to motivate employees to achieve organizational goals. Prison staffs and professionals can be motivated through reward system. Incentives are given to staffs where performance is excellence. The prison staff can also be motivated by satisfying their esteem needs (respect of employer/prison administration)


Controlling means monitoring employee’s activities, determining whether the organization is on path towards its goal, and make necessary correction if needed. Prison administration needs to monitor the performance of prison staff and professional so that the offenders are rehabilitate and reintegrate back to society as productive citizen. If the inmates/offenders resist change and the goal could not be achieved, then a more forceful approach (e.g increased restriction through rules and regulations) might need to be implemented.

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