BEHIND THE SCENES
The notes and letters in this section of Behind the Scenes contains a mixture of topics. Some are very basic areas of theory which may interest those readers who are more theoretically oriented. Some explore the genesis of ideas, some historical matters of interest. Others give insights into what was going on in some of the premier centres of thought and action in systems
LETTER TO ERIC TRIST: AFTER 5TH COLLEGE AND K.R. PLAN
Fred Emery, 1961
Amongst other things, this letter from the Tavistock Institute documents how in 1961 Fred was already developing the concepts in the famous 1965 'causal texture' paper. It also documents the typical maladaptive dynamics inside a DP1 structure and his determination not to let these dynamics sink his work and the future he could see for open systems.
COMMENTS ON NOTES FROM K. KOFFKA: PROBLEMS IN THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ART
January 25, 2025
These are notes from a symposium discussing some very fundamental issues in psychology. These along with many other basics obviously form some of the foundation for his abiding interest in perception in general.
NOTES ON CONTEXTUALISM
There are notes establishing a rigorous distinction between Contextualism and the two other major world hypotheses.
ON BEHAVING PURPOSEFULLY
These notes are one of the documents exploring the possibility of a fruitful period of collaboration between Fred and Russ Ackoff at the group S3 in the Wharton School, Uni or Pennsylvania. The idea was to create a sequel to On Purposeful Systems (1972) which was itself an uneasy aggregate of the ideas of both men. The first page is by Fred while the rest is by Russ and looks as if he had already prepared a substantial draft of such a book. As the two proposals make clear, they had drifted further apart in the interval between finalizing OPS and 1982, and really were poles apart. Despite two years of effort at working together, they failed and indeed, the gap widened.
SYSTEMS THINKING AND MACRO-MARKETING
Despite the name, these are notes for chapter 1 of a book about the development of systems thinking. They are concerned primarily with the very basics of the scientific endeavour.
This is an edited series of extracts from World Hypotheses (Pepper, 1942). Fred would have prepared and used it as teaching notes at S3.
NOTES ON PEIRCE AND OST
This documents a basic set of correspondences found in OST and the work of Charles Peirce with a bit of Fritz Heider thrown in. Was probably used as teaching notes at S3.
BASIC PROPOSITIONS OF SOCIAL SYSTEMS THINKING
Fred Emery, 1984
This is a further exposition of correspondences between OST and the levels of C. S. Peirce with specific reference to perception and the world hypotheses. Would have been used as teaching notes.
LETTER TO OGUZ BABUROGLU
This letter contains Fred's observations about recent changes in Australia and the implications thereof, plus his thoughts about what would be involved if we were to see a new wave of interest in systems.
SECOND LETTER TO OGUZ BABUROGLU
This letter deals mainly with the genesis of the famous 1965 open systems paper and the naming of the causal textures of the environmental types described in it.
LETTER TO PER: DEVELOPMENT IN NORWAY
Fred Emery, 1987
As the title says, this letter discusses some matters contemporary to organizational development at the time and some concerned with the historical significance of the Norwegian Industrial Democracy Program.
HOW FRED AND MERRELYN EMERY DIDN’T GET INTO THE PALGRAVE HANDBOOK OF ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE THINKERS
Merrelyn Emery with Don deGuerre and Philip Deering, August 2018
This is the story of how the work of Fred and Merrelyn Emery didn’t make it into The Palgrave Handbook of Organizational Change Thinkers, Szabla, D.B., Passmore, W., Barnes, M., Gipson, A.N. (Eds). (2017). Palgrave Macmillan.
Invitations were extended to us to write two chapters documenting the work of both Fred and Merrelyn but ultimately neither chapter was found acceptable. This story extends over about two years with several twists and turns as the reasons for delaying publication of our contributions changed over time. We publish both chapters here exactly as they were last presented to the editors.
FRED EMERY: CREATOR OF TIMELESS WORK FROM A TIMELESS LAND
Merrelyn Emery, 2016
This chapter documents the evolution of an approach to social science based on material universals or reality, open systems theory (OST). OST diverges from approaches based on abstract universals. The chapter traces the development of its key concepts and attempts to convey some feeling for the man responsible for most of its development. It attempts to convey not only Fred’s intellectual brilliance but also hints at his complex mixture of free spirit, respecter of life, self-determination and participative democracy.
MERRELYN EMERY AND OPEN SYSTEMS THEORY: A PRACTICAL, CONTEXTUAL SOCIAL SCIENCE TO ENGAGE THE WORLD
Don deGuerre and Philip Deering
Open Systems Theory (OST) as primarily developed by Fred and Merrelyn Emery in Australia provides an integrated set of concepts and constructs in both theory and practice to more accurately describe reality. A major part of the work is to research participative democratic structures, processes and governance as an alternative to dominant hierarchies.