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Development of Transdisciplinary Conceptual Aids

Simple techniques for education, research, pre-risis management, and program administration
highlighting patterns of information transaction and sub-system interdependence

- / -

Project proposed by Anthony Judge and Jere W Clark, Center for Interdisciplinary Creativity, Southern Connecticut State College

Originally published as UIA Study Papers: INF/7, May 1970. (Version francaise)
The approach advocated subsequently gave rise to the Integrative Knowledge and Transdisciplinarity Project


Given that fields of knowledge and activity are in many cases no longer usefully separable into isolated compartments, and that effective programs must be conceived as parts of a system (rather than in isolation), this project aims to provide:

The approach used is to develop techniques for portraying the interdependence of, and information transfers between, knowledge and activity sub-systems.

In its least costly form the project could be under-taken and completed by a small working committee of individuals with either extensive cross-disciplinary experience or a general systems background.

The information collected and displayed could be easily adapted to electronic data processing methods as a stimulus to, or basis for, further research in this area. The approach used lends itself particularly to illustration by film as an educational aid.


Society is faced with a crisis which can be best illustrated by the following quotes:

"We know much of what the future will bring in terms of problems. We know they will be big, complex, and serious .... These problems represent the givens. We know they will be there -- and we know they will overwhelm us if we do not find the means of coping with them. What we lack, thus far, is conviction that there is a means of getting hold of them. They seem so staggering in their size and complexity -so far beyond the capability of any single institutional segment of the community, public or private .... And they are so interrelated that to proceed to try to solve any one of them in isolation from the other is often to create more problems than are solved by the effort." (K.G. Harr, Jr., President of Aerospace Industries Association, quoted in Harvard Business Review., March-April, 1967, p. 10, emphasis added.)


"The most probable assumption is that every single one of the old demarcations, disciplines, and faculties is going to become obsolete and a barrier to learning as well as to understanding. The fact that we are shifting from a Cartesian view of the universe, in which the accent has been on parts and elements, to a configuration view, with the emphasis on wholes and patterns, challenges every single dividing line between areas of study and knowledge " (P.F. Drucker. The Age of Discontinuity; guidelines to our changing society, Harper and Row, 1968, p. 350)


"Suppose that an organizational problem is completely solvable by one of the disciplines we have considered .... how is a practitioner of any one discipline to know in a particular case if another discipline is better equipped to handle the problem than is his? It would be rare indeed if a representative of any one of these disciplines did not feel that his approach to a particular organizational problem would be very fruitful, if not the most fruitful as systems analysts know, few of the problems that arise can adequately be handled within any one discipline. Such systems are not fundamentally mechanical, chemical, biological, psychological, social, economic, political, or ethical. These are merely different ways of looking at such systems. Complete understanding of such systems requires an integration of these perspectives.' (R.L. Ackoff. Systems, organizations and interdisciplinary research. In: General Systems Yearbook (Society for General Systems Research), 5, 1960, pp. 1-8.)


'. . . I wish I could adequately characterize for you the chagrin of the recent college graduate when he initially discovers that the problems of the real world do not fit into neat categories corresponding to the disciplines taught in school. The economist discovers that the answer to a fiscal problem may be more political than economic in nature. The engineer discovers that the human element in a situation may completely thwart his carefully calculated plans for machine efficiency. The biologist discovers that he can not even successfully communicate with the budget officer. None of them is adequately prepared for a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving. None of them is adequately prepared to give appropriate consideration to all of the significant elements and relationships in a situation. The managers and administrators of the future -- and even the present -will need, in addition to their technical and human relations skills, conceptual skills which will enable them to:

(J.W. Greenwood, Jr. Nature and importance of systems education. In: Clark, J.W., and Clark, J.S. (Eds.). Systems Education Patterns on the Drawing Boards for the Future, highlights of the second annual national conference on general systems education., Center for Interdisciplinary Creativity, Southern Connecticut State College, New Haven, Connecticut, 1969, pp. 6-10.)

The points raised by the above quotes may be summarized as follows:

In addition there is the problem of ensuring that the few specialists in general systems (who are primarily interested in theoretical work) are supplied with a relatively simple and direct means of communicating their viewpoint to persons concerned solely with specialized fields or with the application of certain types of knowledge.

Part of man's dilemma is posed by the computer. The fact that the computer the volume of information that could be processed has increased so dramatically (within the present structure of knowledge) seems to have encouraged him to ignore the real intellectual need of the day. That need is to develop simpler, more functional, and more flexible ways to associate information among many different fields of knowledge and fields of activit . This need is becoming especially acute for agencies which span major portions of the globe or attempt to coordinate many activities.

Summary of proposed project

The purpose of the project is to take a simple but powerful step toward meeting the need noted in the preceding section. It involves applying the latest concepts and methods of systems research to the task of developing simple and flexible, trans -disciplinary techniques for solving multi -disciplinary problems. These field interaction displays, as they are being called, should not only help any specialist identify the fields from which he needs information, but should also simplify and vitalize the process of classifying, storing, and retrieving information generally.

The approach used is to link terms (fields of knowledge and activity) on the basis of their relevance to one another as reflected by the existing patterns of transfer of information between them. In this way, for example, if information (data; control information; concepts or techniques) is generated in the field of economic and social development and (a) is, or (b) should be used (according to a systems perspective) in the field of environment protection, then the (underlined) terms are cross-linked. This cross-linking is done systematically for the complete range of fields of human activity.

The final result maybe produced in the form of:

These field interaction displays can then be published and widely distributed. Particular uses envisaged are as a supplement to directory indexes, as an educational, decision-making or research aid, or as a special cross-reference table for computer-data scan purposes. The simplicity and practicality of these displays make them available to laymen as well as to technicians. Although effective us of these displays will not require seminars and courses in theory, such use is expected to stimulate interest in books, articles, and films providing a general orientation to systems ways of thinking.

The field interaction displays developed as a result of the project in each case guide the thinking or approach of users, whether they be executives in agencies or international organizations, students, or research workers investigating social systems, to approximate more closely to a broad systems perspective on the interrelationship of the fields which are of particular interest to them. This permits users to plan their activities in the light of a systems perspective rather than solely in terms of the criteria and constraints of an isolated field, thus maximizing the effectiveness of their projects within a more general systems context.

In the form of an input/output table, this approach represents an extension of that used by economists to display inter-industry transactions. The flowchart form is a standard technique in operations research.

In the form of an index, this approach represents a systems -oriented development of the normal cross-references used in document or library subject or thesaurus-based indexes. It must however be very carefully distinguished from them. In the case of document indexing, for example, the cross-references are used to indicate:

This is a static, atomistic conception of fields of knowledge and activity. It does not involve any concept of a functional or system interaction between different fields. When traditional approaches are used, there is no built-in implication of the need for information generated in one field in the course of the activities of another. The user's attention is focused on a particular isolated field. The proposed displays, however, force the user to become aware of the fields (a) making use of the data produced in the field with which he is concerned, (b) producing information of direct relevance to the field with which he is concerned. This is particularly important where the use made of the transferred information could not be conceptualized or predicted within the framework of the field where it was generated. Although the terms may be ordered in the form of an index, for example, they are in effect a simplified representation of the operation of a social system and its channels of information f low.

In each case the field interaction displays constitute a simple and low cost delivery system for a general systems perspective. Because of the simplicity, modifications can be easily made or improved versions of the model prepared.

The project is designed in three stages:

  1. production of an informal exploratory index for immediate use; this could be prepared by a small working group of persons with either experience of a wide variety of cross -disciplinary problems or in general systems theory itself.
  2. production of an improved version of the previous index on the basis of a limited literature search and contacts with interested bodies; and
  3. detailed investigation of the complete range of inter-field transfers of information and the transfers desirable in the light of social system models.

Conception of requirements

A major current difficulty for a person or organization primarily concerned with a particular specialized topic is to determine fields of knowledge or activity generating information relevant to his own field. It is equally difficult to determine the fields other than his own which are affected by information generated in his own field. In both cases it may only be other groups that possess the necessary techniques and perspectives to determine the existence of such interrelationships. It may require still others to determine the need for information transfers that do not currently exist.

A further difficulty exists in that different specialized groups are concerned with different fields and no central source of information exists showing the interrelation ships between all fields. The required overall information 'map' of these interrelationships needs to be produced.

Such a sub-system interaction map would enable any person or organization with particular programs or interests to determine exactly what other fields of knowledge or activity were relevant to his own.

The first and simplest approximation to such an information transfer map could be developed as follows. A special type of index could be prepared which would interrelate the terms (or keywords) employed to name or label existing fields of knowledge and activity, according to whether transfers of information occurred between them, or information generated in one field was used in another.

Just as it is difficult for a person or organization to determine what fields of interest are generating information relevant to his own, it is also difficult to determine which problem areas are related to those with which the organization is concerned. No map relating sub-problem areas exists.

As in the case of sub-system interrelationships, it is possible to develop a first approximation to a problem map by preparing an index of problem area names and linking them on the basis of whether information concerning one problem area, or generated as a result of it, is relevant to any other problem area.

Approach and procedure

Preliminary Research for Immediate Application: The simplest version of the first form of field interaction display, namely an index, could be prepared by a small committee or working group of individuals with a generalist, systems or cross -disciplinary background. The committee would need to work from a complete list of fields of knowledge or activity as a guide. Examples of such lists are the Universal Decimal Classification scheme (used for document classification) or any other library coding scheme such as the Aligned List of Descriptors published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (Paris) All the terms contained in such lists would not need to be considered. In the case of the U.D.C. it might, for example, be sufficient to take terms down to the first or second decimal of detail.

The procedure would be to prepare a card index for each term and indicate on that card, on the basis of discussion and the ex2erience of group members only, all the fields from or to which information (in the form of data, management information, or concepts) was received or transferred. At this stage no attempt should be made to confirm the group's tentative conclusions by engaging outside consultants. If nece-ssary a further step could be taken. An attempt could be made to rank estimate the current flows of information between fields. In addition, the committee could then consider any fields with which the given field should be in contact and supply a rank estimate for the flows which should exist in terms of a systems perspective, taking into account feedback requirements of a given sub-system.

In its simplest form, the cards could then be sorted alphabetically and the first version of the index- cum -thesaurus printed for distribution.

To increase the value of the index, a preliminary version could be mimeographed and circulated to individuals in a variety of fields and with different systems or planning interests for review and comment. In this way, final agreement could be reached on the sub-system information transactions and their rankings. Clearly the final result would not represent a final picture, but only the best efforts of a group with its own blind spots. Modified versions could be prepared by independent groups and attempts made to combine them if necessary.

Limited Research: Following the preparation of a preliminary version of the index, as indicated in the previous section, a limited research project could be undertaken to confirm the subsystem information transactions and flow rankings allocated. This could be done on the basis of a search of representative documents in each field to determine the existing field interaction and to refine the rankings. An attempt could be made to locate material relating to each field where it was indicated with which fields the given field should be in contact. It is precisely this type of information which is less likely to be available in the literature relating to the field in question.

Major Research: Once the limited research project is completed, a major research program could be designed to locate the information to complete the presentation of field interactions in the input/output table form. In this form the possibility of information transfers between every field and every other field is highlighted. This suggests lines of research and data collection. The problems of handling and processing the large matrices so constituted would make the use of a computer an important possibility.

Description of possible field interaction displays

The same systems perspective may be given using different techniques or structures to display the information. The three possibilities discussed here are indexes, charts and input/output tables. All three techniques could be used to display information either directly on paper in the conventional manner or with the aid of computer display terminals, if the information is held in machine readable form.

1. Indexes: Each field of knowledge or activity could be placed in alphabetical order of the terms used to describe them. No distinction would be made in this list between fields which grouped, or were grouped by, other fields. Against each field would then be placed the names of other fields from which information was received (i.e. inputs), and, in another group, the names of fields to which information was transferred whether directly or indirectly (i.e. outputs) . The first form of such an index would therefore be approximately as indicated in Appendix 1.

In a more developed form of the index further information could be added:

a) The types of information flowing could be distinguished as

b) A ranking of the estimated flows of information in each case, divided int o

Clearly in the early stages it would be an advantage to rank on a very simple scale such as 1 to 10.

Suitable typographic techniques would be required to include this new information in the index.

2. Flowcharts: All the information mentioned in connection with the index form of presentation could be plotted out in the form of an information flowchart. 'Boxes' could be used to indicate each field of knowledge or activity. Arrowed flow-lines would be drawn in linking the appropriate boxes. In the more developed form, codes could be placed on the lines to indicate the types of information flowing. The rank coding could be used to indicate the current and required flows. This is the method of display used in operations research.

3. Input/Output Tables: The information in the index presentation could be displayed more systematically using input/output tables. Such a table consists of rows, each of which represent a single field of knowledge or activity, and columns with the same sequence of fields. The columns of the table represent inputs to a field, the rows represent outputs from a field. Each position within the table may therefore be used to indicate a ranking estimate of the amount of information output from one field and input to another. Clearly a second ranking estimate could be used to indicate the amount of information which should be transferred from one to the other.

Tables of this type are used by economists and business enterprises to display and analyze the trading transfers between different sectors of industry.

"It has long been recognized that in the economy of any town, city, state or nation each business depends on products and services of other industries in order to produce products or services of its own. This interdependence of industries within an economy is entirely obvious, but difficult to measure, and becomes more difficult as the economy becomes more complex and more mature. The 'square matrix" of inter-industry transactions - - which shows these interdependencies and measures them for a given period -- is, in combination with electronic data processing, becoming a valuable basis for future economic planning for business, industrial firms, and governments -- local, regional, or national. For both sudden or gradual changes in industrial, government or consumer areas of supply and demand alter all other relationships, and individual companies stand to profit or suffer in the transition ....Application of Input/Output to marketing problems assures improved information generated through the use of a systems approach: analyzing a problem in relation to the whole economy, rather than as a series of unrelated cases." (From: Facts on Fortune's 1966 Input/Output Matrix - Computer-age Tool, pp. 2-5.)

It is quite clear from this that interdependence of industry sectors and the constituent enterprises has been widely recognized. This recognition is of course limited to interactions detectable from an economic perspective. The same principle applies however to all interactions (funds, information, goods, etc.), between all types of organizations (governmental, nongovernmental, nonprofit, etc.), concerned with all subject areas (development, environment, education, etc.) . This is not generally recognized.

Just as each economic sector's dependence on 100 to 1,000 others can be conveniently displayed in an input/output table, so it is possible to display the dependence of any sector or sub-system of the social system on all other sub-systems in terms of the information transfer transactions.

It is interesting to note that Wassily Leontief, who developed the input/output technique, now foresees that input/output tables might be expanded to quantify the byproducts with which the various industries pollute the atmosphere. He considers this would lead to a sharp understanding of the connections between economic processes and the environment and thus help to solve this major problem in the developed countries, namely the rapid deterioration in the quality of life (Business Week, 22 November 1969, p. 126).

"The unique service of input-output analysis is its ability to give a detailed picture of the industrial structure by putting numbers on all the complex interconnections that link the various sectors of the economy. " (Business Week, 22 November 1969, p. 125.)

If there is the possibility that some such technique could clarify relationships between agencies, programmes, organizations, governments, etc. and the subject areas with which they are concerned, then clearly it is vital that this approach be studied in great detail.

It may be the key to a most important breakthrough and the solution to the problem of maintaining a "clear and comprehensive overall picture". Consider the possibility, at the world system level, of being able to show (a) what each group of organizations acquired from every other group in a given year, (b) how, for example, an increase in demand for agricultural development would be translated directly into extra demands on bodies concerned with fertilizers, transport, agriculturalists, pollution experts, and agricultural machinery, and (c) how, by the addition of feedback effects, an increase in educational aid programmes leads, for example, to an increased teacher requirement, which in turn requires more educational aid. (Adapted from the Business Week example.)

Input/output figures are vital for the projection of growth trends within the economy. Similarly, it is possibly only with this sort of approach that noneconomic factors can be adequately shown in growth projections. As a minimum, projected changes in some estimate of the number of interactions (or links) between organizations in different parts of the system could be shown. The pattern of these changes would clearly show weaknesses over certain periods in certain parts. These could however be prepared for, just as an attempt is made to correct for economic weaknesses detected in a similar manner.

This sort of comprehensive approach should create a general framework within which it would become harder for non-context oriented programmes to be put forward or deteriorate, during implementation, into a partial approach. This should reduce many of the problems noted by the Capacity Study within the UN system(Capacity Study of the United Nations Development System. Geneva, 1969, 2 vols.), and in the following at the national level within the U.S.A.

"Virtually the entire legal, intellectual, and administrative base of the redevelopment and urban renewal programs throughout the United States is based on the intensive treatment of a fragment of the problem. Any attempt to recast thinking about the program so that it deals with the universe of the problem runs counter to the interests of both the administrative and intellectual adherents of the program and meets massive resistance. (Bacon, E.N. Urban Process. Daedalus, Fall 1968, P. 1167.)

The major problem which arises with this generalized network or input/output approach is the difficulty of quantifying all the transactions in a satisfactory manner.

The situation is particularly complex since the table or network becomes multidimensional. There are many methods of avoiding these problems and obtaining new insights. As an example, an "information map" in input/output table form was developed for the State of California by concentrating on information flows. A survey was carried out to indicate "every instance where information was exchanged between a particular organization and the State government and the local government." These interchanges were shown by means of a code on an input/output table covering all of the State organizations, cities, counties, Federal Government agencies, and private enterprises. Aside from giving an overview of the State information network, the table highlighted cases where one group of organizations needed information from another group but could not obtain it because it was not available. (From: Hearings before the Special Subcommittee on the Utilization of Scientific Manpower of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, United States Senate, 89tj Congress, S. 2662, 1965-1966, pp. 35-38.)

Clearly it is possible to control the degree of ambitiousness of the project proposed here by, in the first instance, allocating rank numbers to each position in the table on the basis of a consensus of working group experience; later specific sectors could be studied in detail via the existing literature, and only finally would it be necessary to attempt a more absolute measure of the information transfers, along the same lines as the State of California study.

Funds requirement

A table setting out the suggested funds required for a three-stage project is given in Appendix II. (omitted)


1. Use of Index: An index presentation can be used in directories as a means of obtaining information not otherwise obtainable from conventional indexes. Consider the case of a directory of organizations concerned with a wide range of subjects. Under normal circumstances each organization indexed is considered as an isolated ent ity. If this new type of field interaction index is used, however, the user is informed of the fields of whose information a particular organization should be aware. In the absence of further information, it is an indication of the fields to and from which the organization should be receiving and transmitting inf ormati on.

The significance of such an index is therefore that it makes the user, particularly if he is an executive within an organization, aware of the fields related to his own with which he should be concerned in terms of a systems perspective. If the index is combined with a normal keyword or subject index (referring to page, entry or organization numbers), then the user is educated to an awareness of a broader approach to the environment of his organization and to the organization's relationship with it. This educational process takes place during the course of normal use of the subject index and when it can be most useful in influencing the user to initiate a new pattern of interaction. It is an indirect approach to broadening the user's perspective.

a) Directories: An immediate possible use of such an index is as part of such directories as the Yearbook of International Organizations. This 1200-page yearbook gives data on over 3000 international organizations, governmental and nongovernmental, in every field of activity. The Yearbook is used in many countries as the standard reference work on international organizations and their activities. By making use of the index in this volume, users in many key positions could be subtly influenced in the direction of a systems perspective.

b) Systems Education: Each index constitutes a compact reminder -- a memory aid -- of the systemic links between the different sub-systems of society and their interdependence. In printed form it may be conveniently distributed to classes for discussion purposes, and as background material which interrelates sub-systems, some of which would be normally ignored or de-emphasized during any normal uni-disciplinary briefing or instruction course. This approach helps to minimize the unavoidable problem of bias in a systems education instructor. This may arise because of either strong preferences for particular sub-systems or merely because he is unaware of particular interactions and their significance for the topic under discussion.

c) Administrative and Decision-making Aid: It is normally extremely difficult to ensure that all persons within the executive branches of an organization are aware of the fields of knowledge and activity that interact with their own. It is difficult to pass such information down the line through normal channels because it tends to be subject to filtering, according to uncontrollable criteria, as well as being influenced by problems of status. Distribution of a form of the suggested index provides each executive with a neutral perspective on the links with other fields of which he should be aware, or which he may need to create.

The executive could even be encouraged to rank the activities of his own department in terms of the links with departments concerned with other fields, to determine whether his ranking of them corresponds to either of the two rankings of the index.

2. Use of Flowcharts: Information flowcharts may be used as one means of highlighting non-interacting areas as a stimulus to corrective action. They also help to pinpoint critical areas in the system from which control information may be obtained or to which it should be supplied.

3. Use of Input/Output Tables: Input/Ouput tables create a framework which highlight sub-system interactions on which information is lacking. It therefore draws attention to sub-systems from which essential feedback information is apparently not being collected.

The perspective presented is an immediate stimulus to further investigation and research to refine the rankings of each type of information transfer and to determine the necessity for new inter-system information flows.

Many research possibilities exist once input/output tables are available. Some of these have been explored in "The Improvement of Communication within the World System; research uses, applications and possibilities of a computer based information centre on national and international organizations." (Brussels, Union of International Associations.)

Significance of the project for the proposing organizations

This project is of direct relevance to other programs of each of the two organizations proposing it.

1. Center for Interdisciplinary Creativity

Research is currently underway through the Center in order to develop a metalanguage. This language will not only facilitate inter - d i sciplinary exchanges of ideas within the traditional framework of knowledge, but also should help significantly in creating a functional, operating synthesis of knowledge. One of the chief needs of the research project is to test the research model by applying it to one concrete problem. The field interaction display problem is ideal for that purpose.

This work is closely related to the concerns of the Task Force on Systems Education of the Society for General Systems Research (SGSR) As an indication, Jere Clark, Chairman of the Task Force and Director of the Center, has recently formulated proposals in a paper entitled "Designing a Global Network of Centers for General Systems Education" presented to the annual meeting of the SGSR. One of the main concerns of the Society is the investigation of isomorphy of concepts, laws, models in various fields, and to help in useful transfers from one field to another.

2. Union of International Associations

The UIA acts as a clearing house for information on international organizations. This information is at the moment being prepared for transfer to machinereadable form. The data bank on national and international organizations, which will be so constituted, will be used for social system studies and for the production of specialized directories. The UIA will also use this data bank to produce the 13th edition of its Yearbook of International Organizations (1970-1971), a 1200- page standard reference book on the 3000 international organizations in every field of human activity.

In order to guide the extraction of information from the computer based data bank, directories and the Yearbook, index models are required. Conventional forms of indexing are currently used but the need to extend these to include indexes incorporating a systems perspective is recognized.

This project offers an ideal opportunity to prepare the first of a series of index models. Should the project prove successful, the first of these models would be considered for immediate use in forthcoming editions of the Yearbook. This would constitute an important means of guiding the thinking of users in key international organizations around the world.

The project detailed here is also intimately related to an early stage in the longrange, computer-assisted research program on the world system as described in a series of documents prepared by the UIA. (see references)


This project offers a simple, direct, low-cost means of creating a general awarenes of the systems context of individual programs and agencies -- without the need to create a cumbersome educational machinery for which the fund and brainpower resources are as yet inadequate.

The project has the additional advantage that it can be used to guide the thinking of persons already involved in program decision-making processes and therefore tends to bypass the long cycle between education of a student and the time when the student reaches a position of responsibility in society where the knowledge, if retained, may be used.

Finally, as an indication of the urgency of the situation, the following quotes are pertinent:

"Evidence is mounting that the environment which managers seek to control -- or at least to guide or restrain -- is increasing in turbulence and complexity at a rate that far exceeds the capacity of management researchers to provide new and improved methodologies to affect managements intentions .... there is real danger that the process by which new concepts of management control are invented and developed may itself be out of control relative to the demands that are likely to be imposed upon it. (Introduction to a 1968 session of the College of Management Control Systems of the Institute of Management Sciences, U.S.A.)

''. . advances in a technological society are marked by growing complexity and accelerating rates of change. The manager is in an environment which is becoming increasingly complicated and is changing more quickly. His decisions tend to involve a growing number of relevant factors, while the interrelationships between them become more numerous and tangled." (Tricker, R.I. Towards the total system. Management Today, November 1969, pp. 110-118.)

". . the world is becoming so complex and changing so rapidly and dangerously and the need for anticipating problems is so great, that we may be tempted to sacrifice (or may not be able to afford) democratic political processes. (Kahn, H. and Wiener, Faustian powers and human choices: some 21 st century technological and economic issues. In: Ewald, Jr., W. R. (Ed.) Environment and change: the next fifty years. Indiana University Press, 1968.)

"While the difficulties and dangers of problems tend to increase at a geometric rate, the knowledge and manpower qualified to deal with these problems tend to increase at an arithmetic rate." (Dror, Yehezkel. Prolegomenon to policy sciences: from muddling through to meta -policymaking. Paper presented at a symposium on policy sciences at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Meeting, Boston, 1969.

Appendix I: Illustration of index form of field interaction displays

Shown in the sub-sections below are abbreviated, illustrative lists of information transfers classified as either input (in) or output (out) interactions. In order to suggest the relative importance of transfers within a given sub- section, they are ranked according to expected importance. Because these listings are designed primarily to help the reader identify information transfers which are not already obvious to him, especial attention will be devoted to those transfers which are ranked low (1 to 5). In the case of little known fields, there is clearly an advantage in including all significant interactions. (*)

Topic IN OUT
  • agricultural machinery design (3)
  • food testing (5)
  • hydrology (4)
  • irrigation (7)
  • meteorology (1)
  • pesticide control (6)
  • plant development (2)
  • ....
  • agricultural health ecology (2)
  • hydrology (6)
  • pesticide control (4)
  • soil pollution (3)
  • urban planning (5)
  • ....
  • computer technology (2)
  • general systems (3)
  • game theory (4)
  • ...
  • computer technology (2)
  • defense (2)
  • general systems (1)
  • ...
  • meteorology (3)
  • soil pollution (1)
  • urban planning (2)
  • .....
  • agriculture (3)
  • development,
  • economic (1)
  • .....

  • environmental pollution (2)
  • ...
  • social welfare (3)
  • ...

To illustrate the connection between this form of presentation and the input/ output tables, items from this index are transferred into the table presented as Appendix Ia (omitted)

The rankings given are somewhat arbitrary. In producing this illustration, the authors' recognition of the limitations imposed by the perspective of one individual were strongly reinforced. The need for a developed version (or versions) of this index became even more apparent.

Appendix Ib: Illustration of field interaction with the aid of film

It is not necessary to restrict the techniques used to display field interactions t static media, namely paper, charts and tables. The same concepts of interaction and interdependence between fields may be conveyed more directly and more for fully with the aid of computer interactive graphic devices or film, including video tape (references) . Some film displays are discussed below. (Note also references)

1 . Networks. Each field of knowledge or activity may be represented by a labelled node in a network. The nodes could be displayed as linked with either (a) lines corresponding in thickness to the appropriate rank values in the input/ output table, or (b) lines along which spots of light move with a frequency corresponding to the rank values.

Interaction between fields and sub-fields may be indicated by restricting the movement of the spots to particular sectors of the network, or altering their frequency over certain parts of the network -- thus bringing different parts of the network into play. A multidimensional network effect could be created using different coloured links or spots. The film could switch between different networks. To facilitate understanding, attention could be focussed on a particular node or group of nodes and then switched to documentary material on the field(s) so indicated, then back to the network display.

2. Flowcharts. A similar technique could be used with flowcharts. The film could alternate between flowchart form and network form. Suitably arranged, t procedure would give an immediate impression of patterns of multidisciplinary activity and the need for interaction between different fields of activity.

3. Organization and Concept Ecology. The theme of the film could be one of (a) organization ecology, or (b) conceptual ecology. Organizational ecology describes the interdependence of different types of organizations with only indirect contacts with one another -- as opposed to "organization apartheid" which stresses the significance of certain types of organization only (**) . Similarly, conceptual ecology deals with the interdependence of different types of concepts and the ordering of the perceptual environment that they provide -opposed to "conceptual apartheid" which focusses on isolated topics at the expense of their context.


Anthony Judge:

Sherman Price. "Accelerating systems education". Paper presented at second annual national conference on general systems education, Center for Interdisciplinary Creativity, Southern Connecticut State College, 1968.

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