Systems approach is based on the generalization that everything is inter-related and interdependent. A system is composed of related and dependent element which when in interaction, forms a unitary whole. A system is simply an assemblage or combination of things or parts forming a complex whole.
One its most important characteristic is that it is composed of hierarchy of sub-systems. That is the parts forming the major system and so on. For example, the world can be considered-to be a system in which various national economies are sub-systems.
In turn, each national economy is composed of its various industries, each industry is composed of firms’ and of course a firm can be considered a system composed of sub-systems sudi as production, marketing, finance, accounting and so on.
Features of Systems Approach:
(i) A system consists of interacting elements. It is set of inter-related and inter-dependent parts arranged in a manner that produces a unified whole.
(ii) The various sub-systems should be studied in their inter-relationships rather, than in isolation from each other.
(iii) An organisational system has a boundary that determines which parts are internal and which are external.
(iv) A system does not exist in a vacuum. It receives information, material and energy from other systems as inputs. These inputs undergo a transformation process within a system and leave the system as output to other systems.
(v) An organisation is a dynamic system as it is responsive to its environment. It is vulnerable to change in its environment.
In the systems approach, attention is paid towards the overall effectiveness of the system rather than the effectiveness of the sub-systems. The interdependence of the sub-systems is taken into account. The idea of systems can be applied at an organisational level. In Appling system concepts, organisations are taken into account and not only the objectives and performances of different departments (sub-systems).
The systems approach is considered both general and specialised systems. The general systems approach to management is mainly concerned with formal organisations and the concepts are relating to technique of sociology, psychology and philosophy. The specific management system includes the analysis of organisational structure, information, planning and control mechanism and job design, etc.
As discussed earlier, system approach has immense possibilities, “A system view point may provide the impetus to unify management theory. By definitions, it could treat the various approaches such as the process of quantitative and behavioural ones as sub-systems in an overall theory of management. Thus, the systems approach may succeed where the process approach has failed to lead management out of the theory of jungle.