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Niklas Luhmann’s Autopoietic Theory of Organisations: Contributions, Limitations, and Future Prospects

University of Zurich, Institute of Organization and Administrative Science (IOU), IOU Working Paper No. 105

29 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2010  

David Seidl

University of Zurich - Department of Business Administration (IBW)

Dennis Schoeneborn

University of Zurich - Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology; Copenhagen Business School - Department of Intercultural Communication and Management

Date Written: February 1, 2010

Abstract

In this paper we discuss the strengths and limitations of Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory as a theoretical lens for studying organisations. We outline the main contributions of his work to contemporary organisation studies: the differentiation between social and psychological logics, the differentiation between different social systems, the radical process character of organisations, and the embeddedness of his organisation theory into a larger theory of society. Based on a discussion of the main limitations of Luhmann’s theory we propose an agenda for the future development of his theory.

Keywords: Niklas Luhmann, Theory of Social Systems, Autopoiesis, Organization Theory

Suggested Citation

Seidl, David and Schoeneborn, Dennis, Niklas Luhmann’s Autopoietic Theory of Organisations: Contributions, Limitations, and Future Prospects (February 1, 2010). University of Zurich, Institute of Organization and Administrative Science (IOU), IOU Working Paper No. 105. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1552847 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1552847

David Seidl

University of Zurich - Department of Business Administration (IBW) ( email )

Hottingerstrasse 10
Plattenstrasse 14
Zurich, 8032
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.om.uzh.ch

Dennis Schoeneborn (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
Zürich, 8032
Switzerland

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Intercultural Communication and Management ( email )

Porcelænshaven 18A
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

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