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Last updated February 14, 2001


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Explanation of Theory: Systems theory states groups are open systems, which are influenced by such independent variables as; openness to environment, interdependence, input variables, process variables, and output variables.

Theorists: Ludwig Von Bertalanffy

Date: 1950

Primary Article:

Individual Interpretations: Basically, Systems theory explains the process of inputs, processes, outputs, and environment which groups engage in.

Metatheoretical Assumptions:

Ontological Assumptions: Systems Theory is Deterministic, because the envrionment and the resources provide the processes that are used to gain the correct outputs.

Epistemological Assumptions: Scientific.  Systems Theory is scientific because it is one truth, which states groups will use processes and their resources within their environment  to develop the desired outputs.

Axiological Assumptions: Value Neutral

Critique: Evaluative power: yes, the theory has evaluative power because it evaluates the process of how groups function and are influenced by their environment,

Predictive Power: The systems theory is able to predict the process and variables which groups use to make decisions, but the theory is not able to predict the exact outcome.

Parsimony: Yes, the theory is simple and easily applied.

Testability: The variables are able to be tested to discover what variables are used by the groups and to what extent.

Internal Consistency: Yes the theory has internal consistency. We know the systems theory stems from the Biological Research of Ludwig Von Bertalanffy.

Heuristic Provocativness: Yes future research questions can be asked covering the systems theory in teams

Organization Power:

Ideas and Implications: When looking at the systems theory we can also look at the theory of productivity and the outcome of cohesion. 

Example: IF the input of the group is Group Maintenance then the output is Cohesion. If the Input of the group is Group task, then the output is productivity.

Relevant Research: 
Katz an Khan
Theory Books

Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:

     Anderson, R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.  40-43

     Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. N/A

     Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. N/A

     Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. N/A

      Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. 90-98

      Littlejohn, S. W. (1999). Theories of human communication (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 40-60, 56-60

      West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2000). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. 244-245

       Wood, J. T. (1997). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 189-198