Open systems theory is commonly traced to the work of biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy, who influentially articulated the concept in a series of books and papers published from the late 1920s through the early 1970s. The core proposition is that living systems are not “closed,” in the sense of having no external inputs or outputs, but rather are “open” to the environments in which they exist, exchanging inputs and outputs with those environments. Additionally, as articulated by von Bertalanffy and other like-minded theorists of his era, open systems comprise multiple interconnected subsystems, which must be in alignment for a living entity to function effectively and adaptively in its environment. Although the aligned subsystems themselves are important, in open systems theory, the unity of the ...

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