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This entry examines the systems perspective, which reflects a particular way of thinking about the world. The systems perspective is not only a theory that explains social phenomena but also a paradigm that guides theory and research. This paradigm originated in the 20th century as general systems theory and made an immediate impact on several academic disciplines and their defining theories, including intercultural communication theory.

This entry briefly defines systems theory, describes the four essential properties and other elements of a system (qualities and types of systems), and outlines the contribution of systems theory to the field of intercultural communication. The significance of systems theory to intercultural competence is that it provides a holistic lens for viewing the many relationships among culture, communication, interaction, and competence.

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