Information management for viable organisations

  • Gary Preece

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The recent global „credit crunch? has brought sharply into focus the need for better understanding of what it takes for organisations to survive. This research seeks to help organisations maintain their „viability? – the ability to maintain a separate existence and survive on their own. Whilst there are a multitude of factors that contribute to organisational viability, information can be viewed as the lifeblood of organisations. This research increases our understanding of how organisations can manage information effectively to help maintain their viability.
The viable systems model (VSM) is an established modelling technique that enables the detailed analysis of organisational activity to examine how the structure and functions performed in an organisation contribute to its „viability?. The VSM has been widely applied, in small/large companies, industries and governments. However, whilst the VSM concentrates on the structure and functions necessary for an organisation to be viable, it pays much less attention to information deployment in organisations. Indeed, the VSM is criticised in the literature for being unable to provide much help with detailed information and communication structures and new theories are called for to explore the way people interact and what information they need in the VSM.
This research analyses qualitative data collected from four case studies to contribute to our understanding of the role that information plays in organisational viability, making three key contributions to the academic literature. In the information management literature, this research provides new insight into the roles that specific information plays in organisations. In the systems thinking literature, this research extends our understanding of the VSM and builds on its powerful diagnostic capability to provide further criteria to aid in the diagnosis of viable organisations. In the information systems literature, this research develops a framework that can be used to help organisations design more effective information systems.
Date of Award2011
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDuncan A Shaw (Supervisor) & Matthew Hall (Supervisor)


  • systems thinking
  • viable systems model
  • information management

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