In 1970, D. SILVERMAN published a "Theory of organizations". M. JACKSON reproduces in an adapted form the "action theory"proposed by SILVERMAN, as resumed in seven propositions:
1- the social and natural sciences have entirely different types of subject matter
2- sociology is concerned with understanding action rather than observing behavior. Action derives from meaning attached to social reality
3- meanings derive from society, become institutionalized and can be experienced as social facts
4- while society defines man, man also defines society. Particular constellations of meaning have to be continually reaffirmed
5- through their interactions men can modify, change and transform social meanings
6- explanations of human actions must take account of the meanings of those involved in the social construction of reality
7 - positivist explanations asserting that action is determined.
This is basically a non-mechanistic approach.
JACKSON observes that SILVERMAN's views are widely interpreted as an alternative, critical of systems thinking: "following SILVERMAN's lead (many management theorists)…explored phenomenological, ethnomethodological, marxist and, eventually, postmodern approaches to organizational analysis without recognizing that systems thinkers were engaged in a similar exploration in their own discipline, albeit with practical action as the primary concern (CHECKLAND 1994, GALLIERS, JACKSON and MINGERS, 1997). In return, it must be said, systems thinkers largely ignored what was going on in organization theory"(lbid, p. 65-66)
→ Autopoietic systems; Consensus; Conversation; Observer; Social system (Human); Social order parameters; Stigmergy