The disappointment of systems approach LO20660

Joey Chan (
Mon, 15 Feb 1999 12:45:25 +0800

I have read the current issue of The Economist(13th Feb) and there is a
new book "Rescuing Prometheus" talking about the effectiveness of the
systems approach. Actually, the review says that the book was praising the
applications by the systems approach, especially those engineering systems
such as the SAGE(Semi-Automated Ground Environment) project. However, the
review had pointed out the disappointment of the systems approach in
applying to social problems such as poverty, healthcare and crime. and the
article accused "those systems enthusiasts woefully underestimated the
complexity of human behaviour and the great quantities of computing power
needed to model it in any meaningful way."

I know that Meadows' Limits to Growth and Beyond the Limits are exactly
dealing with these complicated(or more complicated) issues, is the
systems-approach-failure includes these two important books? If yes, what
can we learn form the limitations of systems approach, or simply, systems

Joey Chan
Birdview Learning Organization Consulting
Hong Kong


Joey Chan <>

[Host's Note: In association with, these links...

Rescuing Prometheus by Thomas P. Hughes

Beyond the Limits : Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows (Contributor), Jorgen Randers (Contributor)

(A search on "Limits to Growth" at Amazon shows a number of critiques and responses to the original book which I rate as one of the most important books I've ever read.)


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