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Systems Thinking in Organizations: Applying It to Study Arts and Educational Settings

Yuha Jung


This article discusses the origin and development of systems thinking used in organizational and communication theories in understanding organizational systems. While application of systems thinking in arts administration and education is a recent trend, the article explores how this theory is used to understand and study arts and educational organizations. Based on this theory, arts and educational organizations are understood as open, complex systems that are social ecosystems themselves but are interconnected to external environments. These open systems need to keep evolving and learning as organizations in relation to changes and needs of the stakeholders, therefore becoming learning organizations. Likewise, this theory can be applied to research methodologies to study arts and educational organizations, as demonstrated by a museum research example. This ecological research approach based on systems thinking emphasizes the open, complex qualities of research foci and multiple perspectives of the involved participants of the study.  


systems thinking; mechanical thinking; organizational theories; communication theories; museums; ecological research approach

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