Organisational Fitness: from the Viable Systems Model to Organisational Patterning


  • Maurice Isaac Yolles Liverpool John Moores University


viable system model


Stafford Beer created the first, and until recently, the only approach able to explore organisational fitness using his Viable System Model (VSM). More recently, however, a new approach that comes out of a related stream of theory has also appeared called Organisational Patterning (OP) which is able to complement the use of VSM. The primary distinction between the two approaches is that the VSM is qualitative exploring structural faults, while OP is concerned with exploring the coherence and pathologies of an organisation and is quantitative in nature. The case application for OP being adopted is the banking sector in China. Major problems have arisen for China’s state-owned commercial banks since the country has joined the World Trade Organisation. To be able to respond fully they first need to be able to determine their degree of coherence and the nature of their pathologies. Such ill-conditions will influence the ability of the banks to change. The approach adopted in developing OP comes from a relatively new Viable Systems paradigm called knowledge cybernetcis.

Author Biography

Maurice Isaac Yolles, Liverpool John Moores University

Professor on management systems, Liverpool Business School.



How to Cite

Yolles, M. I. (2006). Organisational Fitness: from the Viable Systems Model to Organisational Patterning. Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2006, Sonoma, CA, USA. Retrieved from



Organizational Transformation & Social Change