ECSU- Dept of Business Administration


MSc Degree in Organizational Management

to be delivered as a separate course or as ORG675 Seminar in Special Topics:


Schedule: Winter Intersession 2004, January 3 – January 24 2004

The course will begin on Saturday, January 3 and will be held on Tuesday evenings and Saturdays.  It will continue through Saturday, January 24.  Tuesday classes (3 meetings)  will run from 6:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. in Media 203.  Saturday classes (4 meetings) will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Media 103, Main campus in Willimantic




This course aims to provide understanding and skills in applying contemporary systems approaches to complex management problems. These usually involve many stakeholders, they are intertwined and provide rise to new emergent properties that cannot be observed in the parts of the system. Following R. Ackoff, the traditional methods of science might be very powerful and useful in many instances but in this case a different, holistic approach is needed, based on systems thinking.


Upon completion of the course a future management expert will be able to:

- identify the stakeholders and forces affecting complex organizational situations;

- structure complex management problems;

- model the interrelationships between the elements of management systems;

- promote organizational learning about complex managerial issues.


The course will introduce briefly the foundations of systems thinking applied to organizational problems.  In particular it will introduce the students to:

-          Complex Problem Solving: Action Research, Problem Structuring Techniques, Systems Thinking and Multiple Criteria Decision Making as potential approaches for such problems;

-          Hard Systems Thinking versus Soft Systems Thinking Approaches to Management;

-          Stakeholder Analysis;

-          Ackoff’s Interactive Planning;

-          Checkland’s Soft Systems Methodology;

-          Critical Systems Thinking and Mixing Methods in Systemic Interventions.


The majority of the course will be predominantly in the form of small group interaction sessions on case studies. The coverage will focus on the areas of application of the above methodologies and on the appropriate techniques relevant to them. A brief comparison will be made between systems thinking and multi-criteria decision making, another set of methods for complex problem solving. The material will be illustrated with case studies based on the experience of the instructor in real applications of the above methodologies to problems related to local government, evaluation of infrastructure for rural telecommunications, management of the relationships in a large outsourced IT project; wild life management and achieving compliance with ISO14000 at a large paper pulp mill.


Required text: M.C. Jackson, Systems Thinking, Creative Holism for Managers, John Wiley, November 2003, will be available in the ECSU bookstore before Christmas. If you have the 2000 book by M.C.Jackson it may also be used though this one will be preferred as more up to date, being published only on the 1st of November 2003.


Instructor: Dr D Petkov, Webb Hall 446, tel. 465 0264, Dr Petkov has worked in systems analysis and decision making for 25 years and has conducted research and consulting in soft systems thinking and taught complex problem solving approaches to masters students for the past 10 years. He has supervised also three PhD projects in that area. He is a member of the editorial board of Systems Research and Behavioral Science, published by J Wiley&Sons, his home page is: