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Systems Theory

  • By: Sarah Boslaugh
  • In: Green Technology: An A-to-Z Guide
  • Edited by: Dustin Mulvaney
  • Subject:Environmental Sciences (general), Environmental Technology, Policy & Management

Systems theory or the systems approach is a way of looking at things as parts of an organized and complex whole rather than as a collection of isolated phenomena. The term systems theory was coined by Austrian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy in 1928 as an alternative to the assumptions (which can be traced back to Descartes) that a system could always be broken down into individual components that could be analyzed separately and then added back together in a linear fashion to describe the total entity. The latter type of thinking dominated scientific research at the time but Bertalanffy found it inadequate and proposed an alternative view in which a system was characterized by nonlinear interaction among components that were nonlinear so that the ...

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