What is the Congress About? The official host of the Congress is the Department of Management, Faculty of Economics, at Sapienza, University of Rome. Professor Sergio Barile is Chair of the Congress and Marialuisa Saviano, Associate Professor of Business Management at the University of Salerno and President of ASVSA (Association for research on Viable Systems) is in charge of the administration and general organization. WOSC, as a world organization, is inviting scientists, policy-makers, professionals and students across the globe to contribute to the debate of the dynamics underpinning contemporary societal problems from a cybersystemic perspective.
As articulated by Prof. Barile:
“Systemic thinking is gradually developing conceptualizations that are outrunning the scope of the so-called formal sciences. It is a response to the reductionism and linearity of much current scientific work and also to the wide spread fragmentation of policy processes and decision making. Enriched by the work of biologists, physicists and mathematicians, and also strengthened by much work in medicine, psychology, economics and sociology, it is producing a veritable paradigm, appropriate to tackle issues both theoretical and operational. Corroborated by the application of related theories, such as those of the "complexity" and "sustainability", systemic thinking is contributing to a science of organization and governance. WOSC 2017, the 17th Congress of WOSC, will offer a space for conversations about social dynamics from multiple points of view. Its conceptual thread is cyber/systemic thinking and its realisation is supported by a network of scientists, which foretells an event more integrated than the usual running of parallel tracks. The construction of the agenda has been highly participative; efforts have been made to support diversity within the shared thematic of problem solving in the 21st century. This document shares with the reader the scope of the conversations planned for the Congress. We all agree that we are in an increasingly interconnected world. As expected our world is becoming more complex and therefore increasingly beyond our traditional response capabilities. The challenge is how we account for this complexity in the quest for a sustainable world underpinned by inclusion and fairness. More effective problem solving requires constructing a better world which enables individuals to offer their potentials and develop their capabilities. Avoiding an overwhelming complexity requires imaginative propositions and innovative behaviour. Among other aspects, it requires propositions and behaviours that emphasise problem solving from a cybersystemic perspective. Systemic thinking gives us tools to manage complexity eluding dysfunctional fragmentation".
WOSC 2017’s aim is exploring, debating and clarifying what kinds of complexity management strategies are more likely to focus our societal and individual actions on desirable directions of sustainability, inclusion, mutual respect, democracy, effective organisation and quality of life. The challenge is making these strategies functional to societal and individual interests and not to the interests of the few. On the other hand, accounting for individual and societal complexity and reflecting upon their alignment with a better world is a challenge for cybernetics. Control and communications as well as requisite variety give us a deeper understanding of the managem ent of complexity. It is this complementarity that leads us to emphasise a cyber-systemic approach for WOSC 2017. Systemic thinking helps us visualising wholeness and avoiding dysfunctional fragmentation; Cybernetics helps us understanding how to maintain stability in the interactions between people, institutions and organizations. Systemic thinking gives us methodological tools; Cybernetics gives us tools to manage the complexity of situations from the most local to the global. Interactions among us and with the environment may reach regulatory limits in which the situational complexity scales down or up as required by the need to maintain sustainability and viability.
WOSC 2017 wants to give a platform to discuss the nature of our social and individual interactions and the constraints impinging in their success. We are proposing three major themes for the Congress; a first theme includes tracks about human aspect of management, technology and innovation, and governance for sustainability; a second theme explores democracy, interactions, law and organisation and a third one offers the space for cyber- systemic thinking and modelling. Tracks for the first theme are human aspects of management and organisation, digital technology, cognitive machines in the future of society and governance for sustainability. Human management opens the space for psychological and social reflexions about interactions among us and with others in the environment. Interactions within organizations and between them and their environments give us the handle to discuss today’ s lack of fitness of governance in the Anthropocene; our society and its institutions need effective learning mechanisms, so far lacking, to cope with a fragile environment. Current information technology offers tools to foster smartness in the quest for sustainability.
Effective communications and smart technologies make more likely organizational structures sensitive to changing environments and able to distribute scalable responses from the local to the global. The application of digital technologies in organizations is disrupting their structures and increasing their capabilities to deal with complexity and interactions. They are offering potentials for better organizational structures and more effective processes of governance. Cognitive machines, algorithms, deep learning, big data are all contributing to the brain of the future; at the same time that they amplify human capabilities they help introducing constraints in the environment to avoid overwhelming us with irrelevant complexity. Beyond managerial and institutional matters WOSC 2017 wants debating bottom-up processes that relate the local to political processes at multiple structural levels; this is a theme about democratic processes to align local needs and ecologies with organizations and political processes. This is a space to discuss self-organization, transparency and local influence in the global. Focus on the local opens reflections about interactions, complexity management and constraints. We are inviting contributions to discuss the interactions revolution emerging from, among others, social networks and the internet; they invite theoretical and empirical contributions, grounded both in the increasing social and human fluidity allowed by digital technologies and also by the conceptual frameworks of systemic and cybernetic thinking. We are raising ethical issues derived from the development of technologies in the world of e-government and law. WOSC 2017 wants to discuss similar concerns with bottom-up processes from the perspective of organizational systems, including non-directive approaches to manage the complexity of social systems and the emergence of constraint in complex adaptive systems. These are all tracks for the Congress proposed in the list below. Additionally, within this theme, we propose debating the higher educational system and its influence in responding to the challenges of sustainable development in Latin America and Europe. This track offers the space to compare experiences in both continents.
A third and final theme of WOSC 2017 is of methodological and epistemological nature. The track Systems Thinking in the 21st Century wants contributions focused on applying systems thinking to current problems, such as social inequality, migration, global warming, and many more. Studying and dealing with these problems require methodologies and tools; we will welcome submissions that contribute to the practice of information and communication systems as well as to the systemic conceptualization of 21st Century problems. Beyond problem structuring we want contributions about modelling problematic situations with the support of Systems Dynamics. Equally WOSC 2017 offers a platform to discuss modelling complex situations such as the economy, organizations, psychology, artificial intelligence, human language, cognition, information retrieval, biology and political science with formalisms of quantum mechanics thus offering the opportunity for transdisciplinary insights and knowledge. Finally, at an epistemological level WOSC 2017 wants to challenge the scientific basis of traditional science. Conversations about reflexivity, second order science, and conceptualization of context are proposed to bring together scientist from different countries and continents to challenge the traditional methods of science. We expect that these concepts will add an ethical dimension to problem solving in the Congress conversations.