Open AccessArticle
Designing Computer-Supported Complex Systems Curricula for the Next Generation Science Standards in High School Science Classrooms
Systems 2016, 4(4), 38; doi:10.3390/systems4040038 -
Abstract
We present a curriculum and instruction framework for computer-supported teaching and learning about complex systems in high school science classrooms. This work responds to a need in K-12 science education research and practice for the articulation of design features for classroom instruction that
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We present a curriculum and instruction framework for computer-supported teaching and learning about complex systems in high school science classrooms. This work responds to a need in K-12 science education research and practice for the articulation of design features for classroom instruction that can address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) recently launched in the USA. We outline the features of the framework, including curricular relevance, cognitively rich pedagogies, computational tools for teaching and learning, and the development of content expertise, and provide examples of how the framework is translated into practice. We follow this up with evidence from a preliminary study conducted with 10 teachers and 361 students, aimed at understanding the extent to which students learned from the activities. Results demonstrated gains in students’ complex systems understanding and biology content knowledge. In interviews, students identified influences of various aspects of the curriculum and instruction framework on their learning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Decoding the XXI Century’s Marketing Shift: An Agency Theory Framework
Systems 2016, 4(4), 35; doi:10.3390/systems4040035 -
Abstract
Since the beginning of the XXI century, marketing theory has moved through a series of epistemological shifts from modern positivism to postmodern constructivism. This has resulted in a series of changes to the main concepts of “traditional” marketing such as: market, product, customer,
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Since the beginning of the XXI century, marketing theory has moved through a series of epistemological shifts from modern positivism to postmodern constructivism. This has resulted in a series of changes to the main concepts of “traditional” marketing such as: market, product, customer, and value. These shifts can be better viewed under a social cybernetics approach such as agency theory. This is because there is now a view that the linear concept of value creation needs to give way to the more complex process of value cocreation, where value is created collectively. Agency theory is one approach that is able to shed light on how customers and providers are able to recursively create collective value during interaction in a market. The theoretical framework provided here is able to provide improved understanding of the interactions betfween (and among) customers and providers in the value cocreation process. In this theory, value cocreation is depicted as an interactive process between a set of “living system” agencies (providers and customers) in a given market arena. The framework can be an effective tool for the managers involved in marketing to contribute to providers’ policies by supplying a clearer portrait of the systemic relations involved in the value cocreation dynamics. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Visual Analysis of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems: Chaos, Fractals, Self-Similarity and the Limits of Prediction
Systems 2016, 4(4), 37; doi:10.3390/systems4040037 -
Abstract
Nearly all nontrivial real-world systems are nonlinear dynamical systems. Chaos describes certain nonlinear dynamical systems that have a very sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Chaotic systems are always deterministic and may be very simple, yet they produce completely unpredictable and divergent behavior. Systems
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Nearly all nontrivial real-world systems are nonlinear dynamical systems. Chaos describes certain nonlinear dynamical systems that have a very sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Chaotic systems are always deterministic and may be very simple, yet they produce completely unpredictable and divergent behavior. Systems of nonlinear equations are difficult to solve analytically, and scientists have relied heavily on visual and qualitative approaches to discover and analyze the dynamics of nonlinearity. Indeed, few fields have drawn as heavily from visualization methods for their seminal innovations: from strange attractors, to bifurcation diagrams, to cobweb plots, to phase diagrams and embedding. Although the social sciences are increasingly studying these types of systems, seminal concepts remain murky or loosely adopted. This article has three aims. First, it argues for several visualization methods to critically analyze and understand the behavior of nonlinear dynamical systems. Second, it uses these visualizations to introduce the foundations of nonlinear dynamics, chaos, fractals, self-similarity and the limits of prediction. Finally, it presents Pynamical, an open-source Python package to easily visualize and explore nonlinear dynamical systems’ behavior. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Thinking Tracks for Multidisciplinary System Design
Systems 2016, 4(4), 36; doi:10.3390/systems4040036 -
Abstract
Systems engineering is, for a large part, a process description of how to bring new systems to existence. It is valuable as it directs the development effort. Tools exist that can be used in this process. System analysis investigates existing and/or desired situations.
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Systems engineering is, for a large part, a process description of how to bring new systems to existence. It is valuable as it directs the development effort. Tools exist that can be used in this process. System analysis investigates existing and/or desired situations. However, how to create a system that instantiates the desired situation depends significantly on human creativity and insight; the required human trait here is commonly called systems thinking. In literature, this trait is regularly used, but information on how to do systems thinking is scarce. Therefore, we have introduced earlier twelve thinking tracks that are concrete and help system designers to make an optimal fit between the system under design, the identified issue, the user, the environment and the rest of the world. The paper provides the scientific rationale for the thinking tracks based on literature. Secondly, the paper presents three cases of application, leading to the conclusion that the tracks are usable and effective. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Emergence at the Fundamental Systems Level: Existence Conditions for Iterative Specifications
Systems 2016, 4(4), 34; doi:10.3390/systems4040034 -
Abstract
Conditions under which compositions of component systems form a well-defined system-of-systems are here formulated at a fundamental level. Statement of what defines a well-defined composition and sufficient conditions guaranteeing such a result offers insight into exemplars that can be found in special cases
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Conditions under which compositions of component systems form a well-defined system-of-systems are here formulated at a fundamental level. Statement of what defines a well-defined composition and sufficient conditions guaranteeing such a result offers insight into exemplars that can be found in special cases such as differential equation and discrete event systems. For any given global state of a composition, two requirements can be stated informally as: (1) the system can leave this state, i.e., there is at least one trajectory defined that starts from the state; and (2) the trajectory evolves over time without getting stuck at a point in time. Considered for every global state, these conditions determine whether the resultant is a well-defined system and, if so, whether it is non-deterministic or deterministic. We formulate these questions within the framework of iterative specifications for mathematical system models that are shown to be behaviorally equivalent to the Discrete Event System Specification (DEVS) formalism. This formalization supports definitions and proofs of the afore-mentioned conditions. Implications are drawn at the fundamental level of existence where the emergence of a system from an assemblage of components can be characterized. We focus on systems with feedback coupling where existence and uniqueness of solutions is problematic. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Increasing the Value of Research: A Comparison of the Literature on Critical Success Factors for Projects, IT Projects and Enterprise Resource Planning Projects
Systems 2016, 4(4), 33; doi:10.3390/systems4040033 -
Abstract
Since the beginning of modern project management in the 1960s, academic researchers have sought to identify a definitive list of Critical Success Factors (CSFs), the key things that project managers must get right in order to deliver a successful product. With the advent
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Since the beginning of modern project management in the 1960s, academic researchers have sought to identify a definitive list of Critical Success Factors (CSFs), the key things that project managers must get right in order to deliver a successful product. With the advent of Information Technology (IT) projects and, more recently, projects to deliver Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, attention has turned to identifying definitive lists of CSFs for these more specific project types. The purpose of this paper is to take stock of this research effort by examining how thinking about each type of project has evolved over time, before producing a consolidated list of CSFs for each as a basis for comparison. This process reveals a high degree of similarity, leading to the conclusion that the goal of identifying a generic list of CSFs for project management has been achieved. Therefore, rather than continuing to describe lists of CSFs, researchers could increase the value of their contribution by taking a step forward and focusing on why, despite this apparent knowledge of how to ensure their success, ERP projects continue to fail. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Building the Observer into the System: Toward a Realistic Description of Human Interaction with the World
Systems 2016, 4(4), 32; doi:10.3390/systems4040032 -
Abstract
Human beings do not observe the world from the outside, but rather are fully embedded in it. The sciences, however, often give the observer both a “god’s eye” perspective and substantial a priori knowledge. Motivated by W. Ross Ashby’s statement, “the theory of
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Human beings do not observe the world from the outside, but rather are fully embedded in it. The sciences, however, often give the observer both a “god’s eye” perspective and substantial a priori knowledge. Motivated by W. Ross Ashby’s statement, “the theory of the Black Box is merely the theory of real objects or systems, when close attention is given to the question, relating object and observer, about what information comes from the object, and how it is obtained” (Introduction to Cybernetics, 1956, p. 110), I develop here an alternate picture of the world as a black box to which the observer is coupled. Within this framework I prove purely-classical analogs of the “no-go” theorems of quantum theory. Focussing on the question of identifying macroscopic objects, such as laboratory apparatus or even other observers, I show that the standard quantum formalism of superposition is required to adequately represent the classical information that an observer can obtain. I relate these results to supporting considerations from evolutionary biology, cognitive and developmental psychology, and artificial intelligence. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Ship Routing with Pickup and Delivery for a Maritime Oil Transportation System: MIP Model and Heuristics
Systems 2016, 4(3), 31; doi:10.3390/systems4030031 -
Abstract
This paper examines a ship routing problem with pickup and delivery and time windows for maritime oil transportation, motivated by the production and logistics activities of an oil company operating in the Brazilian coast. The transportation costs from offshore platforms to coastal terminals
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This paper examines a ship routing problem with pickup and delivery and time windows for maritime oil transportation, motivated by the production and logistics activities of an oil company operating in the Brazilian coast. The transportation costs from offshore platforms to coastal terminals are an important issue in the search for operational excellence in the oil industry, involving operations that demand agile and effective decision support systems. This paper presents an optimization approach to address this problem, based on a mixed integer programming (MIP) model and a novel and exploratory application of two tailor-made MIP heuristics, based on relax-and-fix and time decomposition procedures. The model minimizes fuel costs of a heterogeneous fleet of oil tankers and costs related to freighting contracts. The model also considers company-specific constraints for offshore oil transportation. Computational experiments based on the mathematical models and the related MIP heuristics are presented for a set of real data provided by the company, which confirm the potential of optimization-based methods to find good solutions for problems of moderate sizes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Feedback-Based Eco-Design for Integrating the Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value of Eco-Efficiency into Sustainability Management
Systems 2016, 4(3), 30; doi:10.3390/systems4030030 -
Abstract
Customer feedback is used to understand customer requirements. Early design phases require the consideration of items including manufacturing, the environment, and sustainability management. Therefore, it is crucial that eco-efficiency is taken into account in the early design phases. Traditionally, eco-efficiency is considered only
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Customer feedback is used to understand customer requirements. Early design phases require the consideration of items including manufacturing, the environment, and sustainability management. Therefore, it is crucial that eco-efficiency is taken into account in the early design phases. Traditionally, eco-efficiency is considered only in terms of eco-design issues, not customer requirements based on business values such as Recency, Frequency, and Monetary (RFM) value. In the meantime, integrating innovation from eco-design is one important aspect. Here, I propose that customer feedback-based eco-efficiency and TRIZ-based innovation can be considered in early eco-design based on the RFM value for sustainability management. The analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and fuzzy-based AHP were integrated to explore the relative weights of RFM variables for business value evaluation. The innovative method of the paper is using a TRIZ contradiction matrix associated with engineering parameters for eco-design. The experimental study has been carried out, and it meets the forecasting business value for green product usage. The business value was used as the decision-making factor in order to evaluate both environmental and marketing performance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Model of the Russian Federation Construction Innovation System: An Integrated Participatory Systems Approach
Systems 2016, 4(3), 29; doi:10.3390/systems4030029 -
Abstract
This research integrates systemic and participatory techniques to model the Russian Federation construction innovation system. Understanding this complex construction innovation system and determining the best levers for enhancing it require the dynamic modelling of a number of factors, such as flows of resources
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This research integrates systemic and participatory techniques to model the Russian Federation construction innovation system. Understanding this complex construction innovation system and determining the best levers for enhancing it require the dynamic modelling of a number of factors, such as flows of resources and activities, policies, uncertainty and time. To build the foundations for such a dynamic model, the employed study method utilised an integrated stakeholder-based participatory approach coupled with structural analysis (MICMAC—Matrice d'Impacts Croisés Multiplication Appliquée à un Classement Cross-Impact Matrix). This method identified the key factors of the Russian Federation construction innovation system, their causal relationship (i.e., influence/dependence map) and, ultimately, a causal loop diagram. The generated model reveals pathways to improving construction innovation in the Russian Federation and underpins the future development of an operationalised system dynamics model. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Using Textual Data in System Dynamics Model Conceptualization
Systems 2016, 4(3), 28; doi:10.3390/systems4030028 -
Abstract
Qualitative data is an important source of information for system dynamics modeling. It can potentially support any stage of the modeling process, yet it is mainly used in the early steps such as problem identification and model conceptualization. Existing approaches that outline a
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Qualitative data is an important source of information for system dynamics modeling. It can potentially support any stage of the modeling process, yet it is mainly used in the early steps such as problem identification and model conceptualization. Existing approaches that outline a systematic use of qualitative data in model conceptualization are often not adopted for reasons of time constraints resulting from an abundance of data. In this paper, we introduce an approach that synthesizes the strengths of existing methods. This alternative approach (i) is focused on causal relationships starting from the initial steps of coding; (ii) generates a generalized and simplified causal map without recording individual relationships so that time consumption can be reduced; and (iii) maintains the links from the final causal map to the data sources by using software. We demonstrate an application of this approach in a study about integrated decision making in the housing sector of the UK. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Foreground and Background Components in Separable Complex Systems
Systems 2016, 4(3), 27; doi:10.3390/systems4030027 -
Abstract
Complex systems are composed of a large number of individual components. Many of these systems are separable, i.e., they can be split into two coupled subsystems: one with foreground components and another with background components. The former leads to narrow peaks in the
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Complex systems are composed of a large number of individual components. Many of these systems are separable, i.e., they can be split into two coupled subsystems: one with foreground components and another with background components. The former leads to narrow peaks in the frequency spectrum of the system and the latter gives the broad-band part. There is coupling between the two subsystems, but they can be studied separately for purposes of modeling and for analysis of experimental data. Examples from the literature are given from the area of mechanical vibrations, but the approach is quite general and can be adapted to other kinds of problems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Knowledge to Manage the Knowledge Society: The Concept of Theoretical Incompleteness
Systems 2016, 4(3), 26; doi:10.3390/systems4030026 -
Abstract
After having outlined the essential differences between non-complex systems and complex systems we briefly recall the conceptual approaches considered by the pre-complexity General Systems Theory introduced by Von Bertalanffy in 1968 and those of the science of complexity and post-Bertalanffy General Systems Theory.
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After having outlined the essential differences between non-complex systems and complex systems we briefly recall the conceptual approaches considered by the pre-complexity General Systems Theory introduced by Von Bertalanffy in 1968 and those of the science of complexity and post-Bertalanffy General Systems Theory. In this context, after outlining the concept of completeness, we consider cases of incompleteness in various disciplines to arrive at theoretical incompleteness. The latter is clarified through several cases of different natures and by approaches in the literature, such as logical openness, the Dynamic Usage of Models (DYSAM), and the principle of uncertainty in physics. The treatment and the contrast between completeness and incompleteness are introduced as a conceptual and cultural context, as knowledge to manage the knowledge society in analogy, for example, with the transition from the logic of certainty to that of uncertainty introduced by De Finetti. The conceptual framework of completeness is not appropriate for dealing with complexity. Conversely, the conceptual framework of incompleteness is consistent and appropriate with interdisciplinary complexity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Improved Time Response of Stabilization in Synchronization of Chaotic Oscillators Using Mathematica
Systems 2016, 4(2), 25; doi:10.3390/systems4020025 -
Abstract
Chaotic dynamics are an interesting topic in nonlinear science that has been intensively studied during the last three decades due to its wide availability. Motivated by much researches on synchronization, the authors of this study have improved the time response of stabilization when
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Chaotic dynamics are an interesting topic in nonlinear science that has been intensively studied during the last three decades due to its wide availability. Motivated by much researches on synchronization, the authors of this study have improved the time response of stabilization when parametrically excited Φ6—Van der Pol Oscillator (VDPO) and Φ6—Duffing Oscillator (DO) are synchronized identically as well as non-identically (with each other) using the Linear Active Control (LAC) technique using Mathematica. Furthermore, the authors have synchronized the same pairs of the oscillators using a more robust synchronization with faster time response of stability called Robust Adaptive Sliding Mode Control (RASMC). A comparative study has been done between the previous results of Njah’s work and our results based on Mathematica via LAC. The time response of stabilization of synchronization using RASMC has been discussed. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Adaptation in E-Learning Content Specifications with Dynamic Sharable Objects
Systems 2016, 4(2), 24; doi:10.3390/systems4020024 -
Abstract
Dynamic sophisticated real-time adaptation is not possible with current e-learning technologies. Our proposal is based on changing the approach for the development of e-learning systems using dynamic languages and including them in both platforms and learning content specifications thereby making them adaptive. We
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Dynamic sophisticated real-time adaptation is not possible with current e-learning technologies. Our proposal is based on changing the approach for the development of e-learning systems using dynamic languages and including them in both platforms and learning content specifications thereby making them adaptive. We propose a Sharable Auto-Adaptive Learning Object (SALO), defined as an object that includes learning content and describes its own behaviour supported by dynamic languages. We describe an example implementation of SALO for the delivery and assessment of a web development course using Moodle rubrics. As a result, the learning objects can dynamically adapt their characteristics and behaviour in e-learning platforms. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Model-Based Design and Formal Verification Processes for Automated Waterway System Operations
Systems 2016, 4(2), 23; doi:10.3390/systems4020023 -
Abstract
Waterway and canal systems are particularly cost effective in the transport of bulk and containerized goods to support global trade. Yet, despite these benefits, they are among the most under-appreciated forms of transportation engineering systems. Looking ahead, the long-term view is not rosy.
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Waterway and canal systems are particularly cost effective in the transport of bulk and containerized goods to support global trade. Yet, despite these benefits, they are among the most under-appreciated forms of transportation engineering systems. Looking ahead, the long-term view is not rosy. Failures, delays, incidents and accidents in aging waterway systems are doing little to attract the technical and economic assistance required for modernization and sustainability. In a step toward overcoming these challenges, this paper argues that programs for waterway and canal modernization and sustainability can benefit significantly from system thinking, supported by systems engineering techniques. We propose a multi-level multi-stage methodology for the model-based design, simulation and formal verification of automated waterway system operations. At the front-end of development, semi-formal modeling techniques are employed for the representation of project goals and scenarios, requirements and high-level models of behavior and structure. To assure the accuracy of engineering predictions and the correctness of operations, formal modeling techniques are used for the performance assessment and the formal verification of the correctness of functionality. The essential features of this methodology are highlighted in a case study examination of ship and lock-system behaviors in a two-stage lock system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Classification of Adaptive Feedback in Educational Systems for Programming
Systems 2016, 4(2), 22; doi:10.3390/systems4020022 -
Abstract
Over the last three decades, many educational systems for programming have been developed to support learning/teaching programming. In this paper, feedback types that are supported by existing educational systems for programming are classified. In order to be able to provide feedback, educational systems
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Over the last three decades, many educational systems for programming have been developed to support learning/teaching programming. In this paper, feedback types that are supported by existing educational systems for programming are classified. In order to be able to provide feedback, educational systems for programming deployed various approaches to analyzing students’ programs. This paper identifies analysis approaches for programs and introduces a classification for adaptive feedback supported by educational systems for programming. The classification of feedback is the contribution of this paper. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Knowledge Comparison Environment for Supporting Meaningful Learning of E-Book Users
Systems 2016, 4(2), 21; doi:10.3390/systems4020021 -
Abstract
In this paper, we present an ontology-based visualization support system which can provide a meaningful learning environment to help e-book learners to effectively construct their knowledge frameworks. In this personalized visualization support system, learners are encouraged to actively locate new knowledge in their
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In this paper, we present an ontology-based visualization support system which can provide a meaningful learning environment to help e-book learners to effectively construct their knowledge frameworks. In this personalized visualization support system, learners are encouraged to actively locate new knowledge in their own knowledge framework and check the logical consistency of their ideas for clearing up misunderstandings; on the other hand, instructors will be able to decide the group distribution for collaborative learning activities based on the knowledge structure of learners. For facilitating those visualization supports, a method to semi-automatically construct a course-centered ontology to describe the required information in a map structure is presented. To automatically manipulate this course-centered ontology to provide visualization learning supports, a prototype system is designed and developed. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Challenges and Success Factors of ERP Systems in Australian SMEs
Systems 2016, 4(2), 20; doi:10.3390/systems4020020 -
Abstract
Today, great potential is envisaged for ERP systems in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and software vendors have been repackaging their ERP systems for SMEs with a recent focus on cloud-based systems. While cloud ERP offers the best solution for SMEs without the
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Today, great potential is envisaged for ERP systems in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and software vendors have been repackaging their ERP systems for SMEs with a recent focus on cloud-based systems. While cloud ERP offers the best solution for SMEs without the overheads of the huge investment and management costs that are associated with traditional ERP systems, the SME sector faces many challenges in their adoption. Traditional ERP studies have predominantly focused on large organizations, and gaps in the literature indicate that both vendor and consumer perspectives require more understanding with new technology offerings for SMEs. This paper describes some of the common challenges, such as cost effectiveness, alignment between software and business processes, customized governance and training, which form the major SME constraints for ERP system adoption. Due to the dynamic nature of SME businesses, best practice guidelines for an SME’s ERP implementation could be arrived at through closer investigation of its business requirements in order to avoid misfits. This forms the main objective of the study. We identify key success factors of ERP implementation in an Australian SME as a case study. These target success factors are then compared to the actual outcomes achieved. Factors such as business process alignment with the ERP system, meeting customer and stakeholder needs and reducing recurring and maintenance costs were key to the success of ERP implementation for the Australian SME. In particular, the IT and business strategy alignment with a customer focus and flexible reporting features of ERP systems has resulted in business agility. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Three Scales of Acephalous Organization
Systems 2016, 4(2), 19; doi:10.3390/systems4020019 -
Abstract
Dominance-based hierarchies have been taken for granted as the way we structure our organizations, but they are a part of a paradigm that has put our whole existence in peril. There is an urgent need to explore alternative paradigms that take us away
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Dominance-based hierarchies have been taken for granted as the way we structure our organizations, but they are a part of a paradigm that has put our whole existence in peril. There is an urgent need to explore alternative paradigms that take us away from dystopic futures towards preferred, life enhancing paradigms based on wellbeing. One of the alternative ways of organizing ourselves that avoids much of the structural violence of existing organizations is the acephalous group (operating without any structured, ongoing leadership). Decision making becomes distributed, transitory and self-selecting. Such groups are not always appropriate and have their strengths and weaknesses, but they can be a more effective, humane way of organizing ourselves and can open windows to new ways of being. Acephalous groups operate at many different scales and adapt their structure accordingly. For this reason, a comparison of small, medium and large-scale acephalous groups reveals some of the dynamics involved in acephalous functioning and provides a useful overview of these emergent forms of organization and foreshadows the role they may play in future. Full article