Advanced and mature societies are undergoing a fundamental transformation of their economic, political, technological and social lives. Developing countries are rapidly catching on and accelerating their participation in the transformation, which is equally rapidly becoming global. Yet, at the same time, the process of globalization itself is exhibiting signs of a reversal towards relocalization, i.e., rebounding after the strong global outbound of the past fifty years. The change of paradigms and change of dominant business models accompany such transformations. Yet transformations get naturally confounded with ongoing recessions and crises. Disentangling the phenomena of crisis from those of transformation remains a challenge, especially for politicians. In this paper we primarily address the issues of unemployment and the changing nature of employment in mature economies. Relevance: It is claimed that the autopoietic cycle of self-production or self-renewal forms the organization of all living and self-sustaining systems.
Autopoietic systems are “self-producing” systems. The concepts of the autopoietic nature of a system were developed by Varela et al., based upon a living, biological, system. To illustrate the diversity of autopoiesis in its application to systems analysis, three systems (a eukaryotic cell, an osmotic precipitation membrane, and the human family) have been defined and analyzed using the six-point key, or criteria, of Varela et al. Conclusions have been drawn as to the autopoietic nature of each system. Varela et al.’s criteria as they have been applied to a biological (living) system can be applied to other systems (e.g., chemical, spontaneous social) that are not currently considered as “living” and this may have a profound effect on the way a “living organization” is defined and/or viewed. The very question of autopoiesis in spontaneous social systems is irrelevant. Not only are spontaneous social systems autopoietic but a stronger relation exists where “All autopoietic, and therefore all biological (living) systems, are social systems.” Relevance: This paper questions the restriction of autopoietic systems to biology as originally proposed by Maturana and Varela.
Human systems management requires a new mode of inquiry into complex and dynamical human systems. One candidate is autopoietic systems. These are self-renewing, self-repairing, and unity-maintaining autonomous organizations of components capable of interactive linkages. While autopoiesis was originally introduced as representing a new direction in contemporary biology, autopoietic modeling, as outlined in this chapter, carries great potential for making a significant contribution to the development of human systems management, too. Relevance: This paper is based on the seminal 1974 article of Varela, Maturana and Uribe on autopoiesis.