Viable System Model

by Raúl Espejo and Antonia Gill


This paper introduces the Viable System Model (VSM) created by Stafford Beer. The VSM provides an alternative approach to organization structure and relationships that explains how the organization works rather than who reports to who in the typical command and control hierarchical structure.

Key Words

cybernetics, Stafford Beer, effective organization, recursion, organization structure, managing complexity, balancing variety, five systems for viability, implemention, co-ordination, monitoring-control, intelligence, policy, flexible, business units, autonomous systems, primary activities, management cybernetics, BPR.


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Key Texts

S. Beer, Diagnosing the System for Organizations, Wiley, Chichester (1985)

R. Espejo and R. Harnden, The Viable Systems Model - Interpretations and Applications of Stafford Beer’s VSM, Wiley, Chichester (1989)

Key Links

For a software based learning tool to support the Viable System Model see ViPlan Learning System.



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