n Management Dynamics : Journal of the Southern African Institute for Management Scientists - The potential value of the Viable System Model as a managerial tool

Volume 22, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1019-567X



The increasing degree of complexity challenges today's managers. The purpose of this study is to show how the Viable System Model (VSM) can assist managers in these circumstances. The contributions of the VSM are drawn from a literature review and a case study applying the model to a sugarcane production and supply system. The study highlights the appropriateness of the VSM in a managerial context, in that it facilitates the design or diagnosis of any system, and assists in complexity management by supporting local autonomy and the direct handling of issues. Moreover, the VSM considers multiple stakeholder groups, and pursues the establishment of a common corporate culture as well as adequate feedback mechanisms and communication channels. Although the VSM application in the case study did not include the handling of detected shortcomings, the study concludes by arguing for the significance of the VSM in the field of management science.

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