About Us


Harmony Forum

Peace from Harmony
Mulej. Systems theory and theory of harmonious civilization

Dr. Matjaž Mulej



University of Maribor; Professor Emeritus, Systems and Innovation Theory

IRDO (Institute for development of social responsibility): www.irdo.si

Maribor, Slovenia




Matjaz MULEJ, 1941. University of Maribor; Professor Emeritus, Systems and Innovation Theory. +1.600 publications in +40 countries (see: IZUM/Cobiss/Bibliographies, 08082). Visiting professor abroad: 15 semesters. Author: Dialectical Systems Theory (see: François, 2004, International Encyclopedia ..); Innovative Business Paradigm and Methods. Member: New York Academy of Sciences (1996), European Academy of Sciences and Arts, Salzburg (2004), European Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Paris (2004), International Academy for Systems and Cybernetic Sciences, Vienna (2010; committee head). President: IFSR (International Federation for Systems Research with 37 member associations), until 2010. Many Who is Who entries. M.A. in Development Economics, Doctorates in Economics/Systems Theory, and in Management.Mail: EPF, Razlagova 14, SI-2000 Maribor, Slovenia. E-mail: mulej@uni-mb.si; EPF homepage : epfip.uni-mb.si ; IRDO (Institute for development of social responsibility) : www.irdo.si


Social responsibility as a Precondition for Peace and Development

Instead of the Current Global Socio-economic Crisis

Emer. Prof. DDr. Matjaž Mulej

IRDO Institute for development of social responsibility, and

University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business

Maribor, Slovenia

e-mail: mulej@uni-mb.si; matjaz.mulej@um.si

Abstract: Social responsibility is everyone's (new) responsibility for his/her influence o­n society o­n the basis of practicing interdependence as a precondition for requisite holism. Consequences of millennia of the human practice of o­ne-sidedness and short-term criteria of behavior make social responsibility now unavoidable: the 3rd World War is here/pending rather than peace and development. Both interdependence and (requisite) holism are exposed by both systems theory and ISO 26000 o­n social responsibility. The unfortunate and dangerous situation in society is well clarified by the fact that ISO 26000 was passed o­nly as an advisory rather than obligatory international standard; this means that peace is considered less important than companies profit, while peace is a crucial precondition for profit/benefit resulting from development and well-being.

Key words: social responsibility, world peace, international cooperation, 'Social Responsibility beyond Neoliberalism and Charity' books, Bentham Scientific, 'Social Responsibility Measures and Measurement', Systems Practice and Action Research journal, 'Social responsibility a new socio-economic Order', Systems Research and Behavioral Science journal, 'Social Responsibility and Holism in Tourism', Kybernetes journal, Stop Hating your Children and Grandchildren books, IRDO, Kulturni center Maribor

The selected problem and viewpoint

Many data in daily media show that the current humanity is far from peace and development. Obviously, humans/organizations with the strongest impact o­n the world-wide life reality often prefer their own short-term and narrow-mindedly defined profits/benefits over the general human well-being. This global and very dangerous fact may be seen as a complex crucial reason for United Nations, European Union, associations of progressive companies, International Standards Organization to pass their documents o­n social responsibility and consider social responsibility the way out from the current socio-economic crises. Many persons ask What do I have to do with social responsibility? What and how can I contribute? How can I benefit? We wish to help them in this overview of the essence of social responsibility and add our eight recent books and three guest-edited journals and ten conference proceedings, generated in volunteering international cooperation, based o­n research by IASCYS and the Scientific research center of IRDO, and the University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business, chaired by me. We have no room here for details about the further IRDO commissioned research projects, which have also been crucial.

The essence of social responsibility human values for end of neoliberalism and war


Social responsibility is deeply rooted in human attributes that are expressed with the seven principles in ISO 26000 (ISO, 2010):



3.Ethical behavior

4.Respect for stakeholders

5.Respect for rule of law

6.Respect for international norms

7.Respect for human rights

And in two concepts from systems theory:


b)Holistic approach.

See Figure 1.


Figure 1: The seven core subjects and two crucial linking concepts:

Interdependence and holistic approach, of social responsibility in ISO 26000


The neo-liberal economic practice of the entire period after the Second World War disables social responsibility, while it does not impact governance of enterprises o­nly, but all organizations and humans. Finally, it is now found obsolete by many around the world: it causes prevailing of o­ne-sidedness over organizational individual and political holistic decision-making and action, with very dangerous consequences, such as the current global social, economic, and environmental crisis, resulting from forgetting about interdependence as a crucial part of global economy and society. Market is no longer free, but monopolized.

Neoliberalism cannot solve the consequences of its monopolism, because it has caused them. The old-main-stream economists offer no new solutions, while experts in some of the systems and cybernetic theories, United Nations, European Union, and more recently the International Standard Organization (ISO) do, although o­n the level of basic principles, so far.

Market alone has not proved to be able to rebalance crucial consequences of human o­ne-sidedness, neither have governments alone; both are too monopolized to attain requisite holism, which humanity needs to survive: (1) eighty percent of the global market are controlled by less than 750 out of the studied thirty million organizations; (2) nobody can become president, e.g. in USA without money from big companies that pursue their interests rather than the human and humane o­nes. (For details see e.g. Mulej, Dyck, ed., 2014, and other references added).

Systems theory and cybernetics have offered holism of approach for wholeness of outcomes for close to seven decades; now United Nations, European Union and ISO offer it with their new concept of social responsibility (SR) (ISO 2010; EU 2011).

The essence of democracy that is supposed to solve the current global peace problems, is not the mutual replacement of political parties in power, but the highest possible level of holism in decision making and taking beyond outvoting. The representative type of democracy organizing cannot be overcome yet (Grün, Zeitz, 2012). But the process in the elected bodies can be made more holistic in its approach and lead to more wholeness in its outcomes, e.g. with methods such as USOMID and Six Thinking Hats (see: Mulej et al., 2013). They resulted from the terrible experiences with o­ne-sidedness and its global impact in the 20th century.

In the 20th century the world, and especially Europe, went through a triple terrible crisis: two World Wars and Big depression between them, in 1914-1945. Details have no room here, but a few facts do. (1) The crisis resulted from o­ne-sidedness of the influential persons and their organizations, both governments/countries and enterprises. (2) The o­ne-sided demand in the peace treaty after the First World War demanded Germany to repay huge war reparations with no export led to the WWII. (3) The o­ne-sided decision of Hitlers 3rd Reich to open several war fronts helped the more holistic Allies to win the WWII. (4) The Keynesian model of finishing the crisis looked quite holistic, but Hitlers usage of similar methods of public works etc. finished unemployment by war, which was a very o­ne-sided and terrible practice. (5) Democracy in politics was/is o­ne-sided and hence did/does not prevent troubles. Etc.

The short-term and narrow-minded behavior is typical of the neo-liberal economics; it can no longer work. Under the label of the free market it made monopolies ruin the free market and social control over big enterprises. Thus, it caused a crisis that differs from all crises of so far crisis of affluence with skyscrapers built o­n debts rather than o­n solid rock. In affluence the real human needs and ambitions are covered, greed and shopping-addiction no longer create enough demand for suppliers to find consumers, and human ambitions address well-being and SR beyond ownership of goods; consumers create jobs and well-being, not investors.

The crises require solutions. In previous periods and economic orders, there were many less people (the first billion, with o­nly three percent of people living in towns, in times of Napoleon) e.g. the humans natural environment was o­nly a resource, for which the price was not fully charged to the businesses and other users; now it is an asset (clean water, air, soil), all way to wars for resources that may lead to the 3rd world war globally.

Humankinds over-production changed the environment so drastically, that the so-far practice of natures over-exploitation is very dangerous. Regarding e.g. the climate changes at least three aspects should be considered: direct impact of the changed climate o­n economy and world peace, adaptation of economy to changed climate, and remediation of the climate changes. o­ne-sidedness causes also these troubles. In human responses to crises, the natural and social environment and sustainability should be included. They depend o­n influential humans behavior, hence o­n human thinking, values and knowledge. Their respect for systemic / holistic thinking/behavior and resulting synergies could create peace and development. Social responsibility (SR) supports it, although informally (ISO, 2010) by stressing that interdependence is the basis: Figure 1.

International Standard ISO 26000 is a great guidance to SR, actually to systemic behavior. We expect that as Kyoto protocol since 1990 has introduces many global changes, so will the ISO 26000. At the same time ISO 26000 is guidance, not an international law. Hence, it depends o­n influential humans practicing the above cited seven principles/values in all seven basic contents of life, included in Figure 1, with interdependence as the basis.

With ethics of interdependence cooperation of many specialists and participants becomes possible and leads to requisite holism, thus making systemic SR acting achievable. So does mutual reliability, honesty, hence longer-term and more holistic criteria and practice of behavior, and similar human attributes making life and business better and cheaper via SR.

Obviously, an innovation of values is demanded. It should be supported methodologically.

A potential methodological support for human transition from o­ne-sided to requisitely holistic behavior via social responsibility

Social responsibility adds to influential persons and organizations the values to do more than the law requires officially, because it helps do a better job than the others by more requisite holism of their approach and wholeness of their outcomes. Methodologically, combing the 6 Thinking hats and USOMID as summarized in Tables 1 and 2 can help governors and managers run their region and organizations with requisite holism and hence successfully (See Mulej et al, 2013, for details and references).

White = neutral, objective, facts without interpretation, like a computer;

Red = feelings, emotions, intuition, irrationality, unproved feelings, no justification;

Black = watching out, caution, pessimism, search for danger, doubt, critique; it all works well against mistakes and weak points of proposals;

Yellow = optimism, search for advantages of proposals, search for implementation ways, sensitivity for benefit of the idea, constructive approach;

Green = energy, novelty, creation, innovation, in order to be able to overcome all obstacles;

Blue = organization, mastering, control over procedure, thinking about thinking.

Table 1: Essence of each of the six thinking hats (applied in phases; all participants use the same hat at the same time in the same phase, and then switch to another hat all together)







1. Select problem / opportunity to work o­n in an USOMID circle

2. Record data about the selected topic (no 'Why')

3. Evaluate recorded data o­n the topic ('Why is central')

4. Determine and develop chosen solution/s to the topic

5. Imple-ment chosen solution to the topic in reality

6. Maintain implemented solution for a requisitely long term

1. Individual brain-writing by all in the organisational unit / circle

All 6 hats

White hat


All 6 hats, red, black, yellow, green first of all

All 6 hats, red, black, yellow, green first of all

All 6 hats in preparation of imple-mentation

All 6 hats in preparation of mainte-nance

2. Circulation of notes for ad-ditional brain-writing by all

All 6 hats

White hat

All 6 hats, red, black, yellow, green first of all

All 6 hats, red, black, yellow, green first of all

All 6 hats in preparation of imple-mentation

All 6 hats in preparation of mainte-nance

3. Brain-storming for synergy of ideas / sug-gestions

All 6 hats

White hat

All 6 hats, red, black, yellow, green first of all

All 6 hats, red, black, yellow, green first of all

All 6 hats in preparation of imple-mentation

All 6 hats in preparation of mainte-nance

4. Shared con-clusions of the circle

All 6 hats

White hat

All 6 hats, red, black, yellow, green first of all

All 6 hats, red, black, yellow, green first of all

All 6 hats in preparation of imple-mentation

All 6 hats in preparation of mainte-nance

Table 2: Synergy of USOMID


This is what we have worked o­n in our investigations. We are briefing them here in attachment by summarizing our most crucial recent publications.




The entire world, continents, countries, regions, and organizations tend to be governed by specialists of single professions, whose education for interdisciplinary creative cooperation is very rare, rather than by persons with knowledge of systems theory and/or social responsibility. Democracy of over-voting does not replace creative cooperation. Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1978, p. VII) explicitly stated that he had created his General Systems Theory against over-specialization, i.e. to support interdisciplinary creative cooperation as the best way toward the necessary holism of approach and wholeness of outcomes of human activity. But he did not support his intention methodologically a lot. We did it with our Dialectical Systems Theory (DST). Peace can receive support from using it, so can development. Social responsibility is a next step, especially with support from methods of creative cooperation, e.g. USOMID and Six Thinking Hats. Peace and development can result more easily than from o­ne-sided fictitious democracy

Narrow specialization is still necessary, but equally so is the other specialists capacity: cooperation helps humans prevent oversights and resulting failures, because it enables more holistic thinking/behavior. The role of the narrow specializations is so strong, though, that people hardly see that holistic thinking/behavior enabled by interdisciplinary creative cooperation, backed by (ethics of) interdependence makes specialization of any profession much more beneficial than any operation inside a specialization alone.

Nobody, whatever their profession, can live well without co-operation with people of other professions. De Bonos 6 Thinking Hats support it, so does DST from the same period of time with our USOMID methodology of creative cooperation aimed at innovation. Both of them have been fruitfully applied all four decades since.

A new support was recently offered: social responsibility (SR) with its all-linking concepts of (1) interdependence and (2) holistic approach is close to DST and liberal (rather than neo-liberal) economics (with competition in a free market with no monopoles), as authors understand the essence of the ISO 26000 o­n social responsibility (ISO, 2010) and European Unions (2011) support to it. Politicians and staff are supposed to be interested in social responsibility as a source of their benefit, but need knowledge and values to work o­n implementation of SR, perhaps with a specialized professional team support. The suggested findings should help humans find their way out from the current crisis, but in synergy; this crisis results from obsolete management and government style, including the issues of the world peace and development.


Attachment: overview of our investigations and publications in recent four years


Social responsibility beyond neoliberalism and charity

This project started seven years ago o­n the basis of invitation of the world-top publisher Bentham Science located in USA, NL, United Arabic Emirates and several more countries. It grew to four books with 33 chapters by 48 authors from 13 countries under editorship of Professors Matjaz Mulej and Robert Dyck; a foreword by Prof. Dr. Danilo Türk, former President of the Republic of Slovenia and now candidate for the secretary general of United Nations is in all four books).

Volume 1 is titled: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY A NON-TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION PROCESS. It contains four longer chapters, after a preface and a foreword:

1.Radical Innovation of Values, Culture, Ethics, and Norms Required for Social Responsibility; Matjaz Mulej and Robert G. Dyck

2.Human and Organizational Social Responsibility; Matjaz Mulej and Anita Hrast

3.Crisis? What Crisis? John Raven

4.Towards A New Economic Paradigm: The Parallel History of Economic Thought and the Way Forward; Gergely Toth


Volume 2 is titled: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY - RANGE OF PERSPECTIVES PER TOPICS AND COUNTRIES. It contains eight chapters, after a preface and a foreword:

1.Responsible corporate management and community involvement; Štefka Gorenak

2.Social responsibility and the rule of law; Breda Mulec

3.Well-being as the basic aim of social responsibility; Simona Šarotar Žižek

4.First responders in regional disasters: a case of social responsibility; GerhardChroust,GüntherOssimitz, MarkusRoth,NadineSturm,PeterZiehesberger

5.Requisite holism of behavior when facing complexity of pandemic diseases  new trends in Healthcare information system (HIS); Teodora Ivanuša, Matjaž Mulej, Iztok Podbregar, Bojan Rosi

6.Innovation of managerial attributes to incorporate a more systemic world-view; Matjaž Mulej, Tatiana A. Medvedeva, Vojko Potočan, Zdenka Ženko, Simona Šarotar Žižek, Anita Hrast, Tjaša Štrukelj

7.The economic and environmental decline of Atenquique, Mexico, associated with socially irresponsible corporate ownership; José G. Vargas-Hernández

8.Socially responsible business in the BRICS economies: the way to a sustainable future; Zhanna S. Belyaeva, Alberto G. Canen


Volume 3 is titled: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY - SUSTAINABILITY, EDUCATION AND MANAGEMENT. It contains 8 chapters, after a preface and a foreword:


1.Avoiding a Global Transport Crisis Following the Depletion of Oil and Gas Supplies: A Crucial Case of Social Responsibility; John Kidd

2.The Role of Indicators and Scientific Research in the Sustainable Development of Croatia: An Overview; Emira Bečić and Jadranka Švarc

3.Social Responsibility Promotion by a Learning Region for Sustainable Development: A Case from Slovenia; Ana Vovk Korže and Mojca Kokot Krajnc

4.University Education o­n Sustainable Development as a Contribution to the Shared Responsibility of Experts and Knowledge-Based Society; Jan W. Dobrowolski

5.Performance Levels of Roma Pupils in Foreign Language Learning: Social Responsibility in School; Saša Jazbec, Branka Čagran and Alja Lipavic Oštir

6.Can Strategic Management Show the way out from the Current Crisis towards Social Responsibility? Tjaša Štrukelj

7.Family and Non-Family Enterprises: Differences in Core Values, Culture and Ethical Climate as Signs of Social Responsibility; Mojca Duh and Jernej Belak

8.Socially Responsible Management in Public Administration; Nina Tomazevic


Volume 4 is titled: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY - METHODS, DILEMMAS AND HOPES. It contains thirteen chapters, after a preface and foreword:


1.Support to Ethics of Interdependence and Holism by Edward de Bonos Methods of Thinking; Matjaz Mulej and Nastja Mulej

2.Capability of New Systems Theories to Help Escape the Crisis; Vesna Čančer and Matjaž Mulej

3.Trust Management by Computer Simulation: Towards a Fair, Responsible and Sustainable Economy; Denis Trček

4.A New Fractal Metric for Social Responsibility; Robert G. Dyck

5.The Syntax of Autocratic Systems and the Cybernetic Alternative of Systems Based o­n Social Responsibility; Matjaz Mulej, Kazimierz Turkiewicz, Domenika B. Turkiewicz

6.Use of Systems Theory Through Corporate Social Responsibility in the International Company Novartis and its Sandoz Generic Division; Siniša Petrović

7.More Social Responsibility by Learning Foreign Language and Culture: Case of Slovenian Pre-Primary Education; Mihaela Brumen, Branka Čagran and Fanika Fras Berro

8.Justice, Justness: How to Act Right Pivot of the Ethics of Interdependence; Helmut K. Loeckenhoff

9.Implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility: Can we manage to Save Our World in Time? Grażyna OSullivan

10.New Economy and Social Responsibility; Robert G. Dyck

11.Self-Determination and Self-Esteem of Employees as Factors of Managers' and Employees' Social Responsibility; Simona Šarotar Žižek, Sonja Treven, Danica Svetec and Vesna Čančer

12.Requisite Personal Holism as a Basis of Social Responsibility; Simona Šarotar Žižek; Zdenka Ženko and Sonja Treven

13.Living Networks of Networks: The Societal and Environmental Responsibility of Humanity in the Fight between Humans and the Wild; Pierre Bricage


Social responsibility a new socio-economic order


The Systems Research and Behavioral Science Journal published our collection of 15 articles electronically in 2014, too, while their publication o­n paper took place in 2015:


1.Toward more social responsibility as a new systemic socio-economic order or disappearance of humankind; Matjaž Mulej, Anita Hrast, Robert Dyck

2.A Comparative Analysis of International CSR Standards as Enterprise Policy/Governance Innovation Guidelines; Petya Dankova, Milena Valeva, Tjaša Štrukelj

3.Social Responsibility and Citizen-Driven Innovation in Sustainably Mastering Global Socio-Economic Crises; Gerald Steiner, Filippina Risopoulos, Matjaz Mulej

4.Youth education for social responsibility; Robert Dyck

5.Management with a Frame of Mind for Systemic Thinking: A Conceptual Condition Setting Tool: Jean-Paul Ngana

6.Ethical Tax Corporate Governance of State-owned Enterprises; Lidija Hauptman, Jernej Belak

7.Restorative Practices: A systemic approach to support Social Responsibility; Markus van Alphen

8.Toward more Governmental Social Responsibility; the Case of Natural or Intentional Outbreaks of Highly Contagious Diseases; Teodora Ivanusa, Iztok Podbregar, Bojan Rosi

9.Educational Model for Promoting Creativity and Innovation in Primary Schools; Borut Likar, Franc Cankar, Blaž Zupan

10.Social Participation of High-School Students with special Needs a case of promotion of systemic behaviour and social responsibility; Majda Schmidt, Edvard Protner, Branka Čagran

11.Social Responsibility, Human Resource Management and Organizational Performance; Borut Milfelner, Amna Potočnik, Simona Šarotar Žižek

12.A new socio-economic order: evidence about employees values influence o­n corporate social responsibility; Vojko Potocan, Zlatko Nedelko

13.Integrated Approach to Social Responsibility: a Model of Stakeholders Interaction in Russia and China; Zhanna Belyaeva, Alexander Kazakov

14.Eco-labels- and Schemes: A Requisitely Holistic Proof of Tourisms Social Responsibility? Sonja Sibila Lebe, Igor Vrečko

15.Transparency as a Precondition of Systemic Behavior: the Case of European retailing Banks regarding Social Responsibility Communication; Mirjana Pejić Bach; Mislav Omazić; Jovana Zoroja


Social Responsibility measures and measurement


In Systems Practice and Action Research our guest-edited issue was published o­nline and o­n paper in 2013. We focused o­n another viewpoint, complementary to the others cited here. It contains an Editorial and ten contributions:


1.Editorial; Matjaz Mulej, Anita Hrast, Zdenka Zenko

2.Social Responsibility Measures and Measurement as a Basis for Organizational Systemic Action; Zdenka Zenko, Anita Hrast, Matjaz Mulej

3.Transformation processes of the corporate development in Russia: social responsibility issues; Zhanna S. Belyaeva

4.The influence of employees ethical behavior o­n enterprises social responsibility; Vojko Potocan, Matjaz Mulej, Zlatko Nedelko

5.Measurement preconditions Systemic Action: the Case of Integral Low-Carbon Country and Sustainable Development Indicators: Emira Bečić,Darja Piciga,Anita Hrast

6.Corporate governance and the practice of business ethics in Slovenia; Jernej Belak

7.Critical self-evaluation an Attribute of Systemic Behavior: Authors of Natural Science Learning Materials as Evaluators; Branka Čagran, Milena Ivanuš Grmek

8.Measurement of employees subjective well-being as an aim of social responsibility; Simona Šarotar-Žižek,Borut Milfelner, Vesna Čančer

9.Project management supports (requisitely) holistic -socially responsible action in business systems; Igor Vrečko, Sonja Sibila Lebe

10.Competencies for mastering the crisis by corporate social responsibility; Gerald Steiner, Filippina Risopoulos, Matjaž Mulej

11.Social efficacy by responsible change management; Laura Pană


Social responsibility and holism in tourism


Guest-editors of an issue of Kybernetes, devoted to Social responsibility and holism in tourism, as the very first issue, too, o­n this topic were Ass. Prof. Sonja Sibila Lebe and Prof. Emer. DDr. Matjaž Mulej. Texts were published in 2014. They include:

1.CSR-based model for HRM in tourism and hospitality; Marija Rok, Matjaž Mulej

2.Systemic integration of holistic project- and hospitality management; Igor Vrečko, Sonja Sibila Lebe

3.Building a Model of Researching the Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the Tourism Sector; Katja Crnogaj, Barbara Bradač, Miroslav Rebernik, Doris Gomezelj

4.Holism and Social Responsibility for Tourism Enterprise Governance; Tjaša Štrukelj, Metod Šuligoj

5.Institutional context and hotel social responsibility; María Dolores Sánchez-Fernández, Alfonso Vargas-Sánchez, Paula Remoaldo

6.The Systems Approach to the Improvement of Innovation in Slovene Tourism; Marko Ropret, Tadeja Jere Lazanski, Borut Likar

7.Complex tourism systems: a visibility graph approach; Rodolfo Baggio

8.A Systems Thinking-based Grey Model for Sustainability Evaluation of Urban Tourism; Zheng-XinWang, Lingling Pei

9.Systems thinking and alternative business model for responsible tourist destination; Jelena Đurkin; Marko Perić

10.Early-Warning Management of Regional Tourism Emergency: A Holistic Approach; Xie Kefan, Liu Jia

11.Social responsibility, motivation and satisfaction: small hotels guests perspective; Saša Zupan; Borut Milfelner

12.Towards 2.0 systems thinking: a cross-cultural study of sustainable tourism ads; Wided Batat; Sonja Prentović

13.Industry specific effects of CSR initiatives; hotels and airlines; Ana B. Casado-Díaz,Juan L. Nicolau, Felipe Ruiz-Moreno, Ricardo Sellers

14.Branding paradigms and the shift of methodological approaches to branding; Marica Mazurek

15.Social responsibility in tourism: System archetypes approach; Mirjana Pejić-Bach, Jovana Zoroja, Marjana Merkač-Skok

16.A New Method for Evaluating Tour o­nline Review Based o­n Grey 2-tuple Linguistic; Chuanmin Mi, XiaofeiShan, YuanQiang, Stephanie Yosa, YeChen

17.Education for responsible persons, tourists and hosts through knowledge of neighbouring countries languages in cross-border areas; Mihaela Brumen, Branka Čagran, Matjaž Mulej

18.Managing Knowledge Transfer Partnership for a rural Community: the Outcomes at Wirksworth; Peter Wiltshier, Michael Edwards

19.Systemic thinking for socially responsible innovations in social tourism for people with disabilities; Zdenka Ženko, Valentina Šardi


Dialectical Systems Thinking And The Law Of Requisite Holism Concerning Innovation


This book was published as the third volume in the series Exploring Unity through Diversity, edited by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hofkirchner, Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (BCSSS), Vienna, Austria. Its publisher was Emergent Publications, Litchfield Park, AZ, USA. (If the author is not specified, I am the author.)



0.1 Circumstances in which the Problem and Viewpoints of its Consideration are selected

0.2 Systems Theory as a Theory of Requisitely Holistic Thinking and Worldview



1.1 Requisite Holism in brief

1.2 Poor Understanding of Requisite HolismBackground

1.3 Sustainability and Social Responsibilitya Way of Requisite Holism

1.4 The Essence of Social Responsibility (SR); Anita Hrast

1.5 Four or Five Phases of Development of the Basis of Competitiveness

1.6 Conclusions from Chapter 1



3.0 The Selected Problem and Viewpoint for Dealing with it in Chapter 3

3.1 Holistic Thinking versus Narrow Specialization

3.2 Difficulties with Implementation of Holism following Bertalanffy

3.3 Economic Reasons Opposing Holistic Thinking in Practice: The Law of Requisite Holism in Decision-Making

3.4 Concluding remarks








9.0 The Selected Problems and Viewpoint of Dealing with it in Chapter 9

9.1 Adam Smith was misread

9.2 General Systems TheoryShort of Ethics of Interdependence (in Practice)

9.3 Ethics and ethics of interdependence; Štefan Kajzer, Vojko Potočan

9.4 Lack of Consideration of Interdependence in 20th Century Practice: Causing the need for making of Systems Theory, not o­nly Systems Thinking

9.5 Conclusions from Chapter 9




11.0 The Selected Problem and Viewpoint of Dealing with it in Chapter 11

11.1 The Chaos Theory and Requisite Holism and Ethics of Interdependence

11.2 The Complexity Theory, Requisite Holism and Ethics of Interdependence

11.3 A Selection of Contemporary Soft Systems TheoriesA Comparative View Concerning their Usefulness to the Issues of Requisite Holism and Ethics of Interdependence

11.3.0 The Selected Problem and Viewpoint of Dealing with it in Chapter 11.3

11.3.1. The Viable Systems Theory (VST); Duško Uršič

11.3.2 The Soft System Methodology (SSM); Duško Uršič

11.3.3 The Critical Systems Thinking (CST); Duško Uršič

11.3.4 Dialectical Network Thinking; Bojan Rosi

11.3.5 Control System Theory; Tatjana Mlakar

11.3.6 Cybernetics of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Order; Vesna Čančer

11.3.7 A New4th Order Cybernetics; Stane Božičnik

11.3.8 The Role of Information in Systems Thinking

11.3.9 Some Tools Usable for Simplification of Management/Impact in Complex Processes and Situations

11.3.10 Historical Parallelism of Systems Thinking: Maya and the Evolution of Consciousness vs. Contemporary Systems Thinking; Tadeja Jere Lazanski Conclusions from Chapter 11.3.10

11.3.11 Some Comparative Conclusions about the Selected Soft Systems Theories

11.4 Some Conclusions about Systems Thinking about the Contemporary Life Problems; Bojan Rosi


12.0 The Selected Problem and Viewpoint of Dealing with it in Chapter 12

12.1 Dialectical System (DS) versus the System and the Object of Consideration

12.2 The Dialectical Systems Theory (DST)

12.3 Dialectical Systems Theory: Grounds of Human Interventions

12.3.0 The Selected Problem and Viewpoint of Dealing with it in Chapter 12.3

12.3.1 The General Ground: Entropy versus Evolution, Human Intervention

12.3.2 Grounds for Human Intervention: Objective and Subjective Starting Points

12.3.3 DSTs Ten Guidelines concerning Influence over the Subjective Starting Points Questions to be answered to define the Starting Points

12.3.4 DSTs ten Guidelines concerning Implementation of Starting Points

12.3.5 The Law of Requisite Holism

12.3.6 Support to Requisite Holism by Contemporary Operations Research Methods

12.3.7 Typology of Systems and Models

12.4 Dialectical Systems Theory and its Application by USOMID


13.0 The Selected Problem and Viewpoint of Dealing with it in Chapter 13

13.1 The USOMID concept: a Reflection of the Seven Components of the Starting Points

13.2 Programoteque

13.3 The USOMID-SREDIM as the General Method of Creative Work and Cooperation Procedure

13.4 The USOMID Circlean Organizational Possibility Supportive of Creative Cooperation

13.5 Combination of USOMID-SREDIM with the Six Thinking Hats Method; Nastja Mulej

13.6 Values and their Influence

13.7 Ethics of Interdependence; Vojko Potočan

13.8 Social Responsibilitya Way of Requisite Holism and Ethics of Interdependence; Jožica Knez Riedl

13.9 Sustainable Enterprise Ethics (SEE)Another Way of Requisite Holism and Ethics of Interdependence; Vojko Potočan

13.10 From corporate social responsibility to corporate social innovation? Filippina Risopoulos; Gerald Steiner

13.10.1 Introduction

13.10.2 From CSR to CSI?

13.10.3 Corporate Social Innovation (CSI)

13.10.4 Implications for Corporate Social Innovation

13.10.5 Conclusions and Implications for Research

13.11 Some Conclusions from Chapter 13 concerning Ethics

13.12 Some Conclusions about USOMID as Applied Dialectical Systems Thinking


14.0 The Selected Topic/Problem and Viewpoint of our Dealing with it here

14.1 The Dialectical System (DS) in Chapter 14

14.2 The Invention-Innovation-Diffusion Process (IIDP)

14.3 Innovation Typologyan Additional Factor of Complexity of Requisitely Holistic IIP and KM in it, as well as Mastering of it; Tjaša Štrukelj

14.4 DS of Basic Preconditions for Invention to become Innovation

14.5 Application of USOMID-SREDIM/6 Thinking Hats Method

14.6 Application of Co-Laboratories of Democracy

14.7 Action rather than Thinking alone Makes Innovation from Knowledge and InventionDiffusion of Novelties; Zdenka Ženko

14.7.0 The Selected Problem and Viewpoint of Dealing with it in Chapter 14.7

14.7.1 Action Based o­n the Theory of Diffusion of Innovation

14.7.2 Need for Spreading of the Novelty

14.7.3 Diffusion and its Preconditions

14.7.4 Change Agents

14.7.5 Opinion Leaders

14.7.6 Concluding Comments o­n Diffusion of Innovation

14.8 Innovative Business

14.8.0 The Selected Problem and the Viewpoint of its Consideration

14.8.1 Definition of the Innovative Business as a Dialectical System

14.8.2 Framework Model for Continuous Implementation of Innovative Business

14.8.3 Total/Excellent Quality and Hence Success in MarketConsequences of Innovation Process Based o­n Requisite Holism and Ethics of Interdependence

14.8.4 Innovation of Management Style

14.9 Innovative Society

14.10 Suggestion to Governments of Countries/Regions Trying to Catch Up

14.10.0 The Problem and the Selected Viewpoint for Dealing with it in Chapter 14.10

14.10.1 Creativity, Insight, and Quality Enhancement as Factors in Innovation Processes in Government and Other Public Offices

14.10.2 Roots of the Lack of Innovation Capacity in Government

14.10.3 A Dialectical System of Suggestions how to Make Public Officers Act as Role Models of Innovation

14.10.4 Some Concluding Remarks

14.11 Four times Ten Guidelines Enabling Innovative Business and Innovative Society; Karin Jurše; Zdenka Ženko

14.12 Some Conclusions about Innovative Business and Innovative Society; Štefan Kajzer


15.0 Introductory Remark

15.1 Innovation, the Firm and the Society

15.2 Innovation and Public Action



Chapter 17CONCLUDING REMARKS; Matjaž Mulej

17.0 The Selected Problem and Viewpoint of Dealing with it in Chapter 17

17.1 Growing Dependence of Humankind o­n High Quality and Hence o­n Innovation

17.2 Growing Complexity of Innovation and Therefore Growing Dependence of Success o­n Systems Thinking

17.3 Need for Careful Choice of Systems Theory

17.4 The Seven Principle Attributes of Systems Thinking Applied in this Book

17.5 Suggestion concerning Systems Education

17.5.1 Introduction

17.5.2 Basic Contents to be Covered in Teaching of Systemic Behavior

17.5.3 Some Conclusions


Eleven IRDO Conferences o­n Social Responsibility


The IRDO Institute for the Development of Social Responsibility is an NGO working o­n promotion of social responsibility in Slovenia and internationally. The efforts include eleven conferences that have attracted close to o­ne thousand authors from all continents. Proceedings of the first ten conferences (2006 2015) are (re-)published o­n o­ne CD, the most recent o­ne is still in process at the time of our writing this paper.

Topics covered so far include: Social responsibility in general (2006), Managers Role in the development of Social Responsibility in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations (2007), Social responsibility as contribution to stakeholders long term success in market (2008), Work a bridge to cooperation: relations with co-workers and different age generations (2009), Social responsibility: nature and humans (2010), Youth in focus of world changes (2011), Innovation of culture toward more social responsibility - the way out of socio-cultural crisis (2012). In 2013 Maribor was The European capital of youth and the 8th IRDO conference made a contribution to it with the topic Education and communication for more social responsibility. In 2014 topic was Health personal and/or social responsibility?; in 2015 Planning & Reporting about Social Responsibility and in 2016 the topic is New Social Realities from the Viewpoint of Social Responsibility.



This book is a triple book in Slovenian. It is published in Slovene by IRDO and Kulturni center Maribor in 2016 featuring works by 53 authors, nearly all of them being Slovenes. The reason for the title is clear: who does not practice social responsibility, ruins preconditions of survival of the next generations, including his or her own children and grandchildren. This statement is backed by many data in professional and daily media, not o­nly in the o­nes o­n sustainability as an attitude about the nature around humans.

Because these three books are in Slovene, we quote their titles o­nly:


1. Družbenoekonomski okvir in osebne lastnosti družbeno odgovornih (The socio-economic framework and personal attributes of the socially responsible o­nes 9 contributions; editors: Matjaž Mulej, Viljem Merhar, Viktor Žakelj)

2. Informacije za odločanje družbeno odgovornih (Information for decision making of the socially responsible o­nes 12 contributions; editors: Matjaž Mulej, Anita Hrast)

3. Izobraževanje in usposabljanje družbeno odgovornih (Education and training of the socially responsible o­nes 18 contributions; editors: Matjaž Mulej, Branka Čagran)


Concluding remarks


As the collected and analyzed data, which are above summarized in chapters and articles of our co-authors and our-selves report, nobody has any excuse to avoid these issues any time in any post and in any activity. Of course, our list is o­nly indicative. We had no more room. What is briefed here is written o­n about 2.000 pages. The four books with Bentham are e-published, so are the journal issues, too. Social responsibility is a concept aimed to radically innovate human behavior for humankind to survive. It is a complex process, but extinction of humankind is much more complex.



Grün, A., Zeitz, J. (2012): Bog, vest in denar. Pogovori med menihom in menedžerjem. Založba Družina, Ljubljana (God, Consciousness and Money. Debates between a monk and a manager)

Hrast, A., Mulej, M., Kojc, S. editors (2015): All ten IRDO international conference SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND CURRENT CHALLENGES 2006-2015. Proceedings.IRDO Institute for development of social responsibility, Maribor, Slovenia; see: www.irdo.si

Lebe, S. S. and Mulej, M., guest-editors and authors, with coauthors (2014): Social responsibility and holism in tourism. Kybernetes, vol. 43, iss. 3-4

Mulej, M., R. Dyck, editors and coauthors, with coauthors (2014): Social responsibility beyond neoliberalism and charity. 4 volumes. Bentham Science, Shirjah, UAE

Mulej, M., guest-editor and author, with coauthors (2014 and 2015): Social responsibility a new socio-economic order. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, vol. 32, iss. 2

Mulej, M., guest-editor and author, with coauthors (2013): Social Responsibility measures and measurement. Systems Practice and Action Research, vol. 26, iss. 6

Mulej, M. and coauthors (2013): Dialectical Systems Thinking And The Law Of Requisite Holism Concerning Innovation. Emergent Publications, Litchfield Park, AZ, USA

Mulej, M., Merhar, V., Žakelj, V., Hrast, A., Čagran, B., editors (2016): Nehajte sovražiti svoje otroke in vnuke

(Stop hating your children and grandchildren. In Slovene). IRDO and Kulturni center Maribor


Dear Matjaz,

Happy New Year for you, for your family and your work! Thanks for your article about social responsibility, which I was glad to publish o­n your personal page here: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=473 You write We work o­n peace in another way in way of social responsibility, which is defined in your abstract:

     Abstract: Social responsibility is everyone's (new) responsibility for his/her influence o­n society o­n the basis of practicing interdependence as a precondition for requisite holism. Consequences of millennia of the human practice of o­ne-sidedness and short-term criteria of behavior make social responsibility now unavoidable: the 3rd World War is here/pending rather than peace and development. Both interdependence and (requisite) holism are exposed by both systems theory and ISO 26000 o­n social responsibility. The unfortunate and dangerous situation in society is well clarified by the fact that ISO 26000 was passed o­nly as an advisory rather than obligatory international standard; this means that peace is considered less important than companies profit, while peace is a crucial precondition for profit/benefit resulting from development and well-being. - Very good about peace and profit!

      Social Responsibility (SR) is very important organizational aspect of society and global peace, about that we wrote in our joint short article in Global Peace Science (GPS) book: http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/global-peace-science-2016.pdf (page 201).But SR is only o­ne organizational resource established by o­nly organization, which does not exclude three others resources (people, information and things see A. Toffler etc.), therefore it cannot be holistic. Global peace is holistic, requiring all four universal societal resources (PIOT), which are produced in four societal spheres by four societal harmonious classes of the population SPHERONS: see about their holism and eternal social genome in the GPS Primer in attachment. You could write its critical review for our discussion of social system holism, which in GPS is unfolded as four-dimensional; not o­ne-dimensional: material, spiritual, human, organizational/responsible and etc., but in their plural and harmonious unity as in Tetrasociology (see ibid). SR (Figure 1) and its ISO 26000 are o­ne-dimensional and very narrow, therefore they are necessary (important) but are not sufficient for social system holism and for scientific understanding of global peace as social system holism. Do you agree with this argumentation? If not what are your arguments? Thank you. Best wishes,
Dr. Leo Semashko


Matjaž Mulej


Systems theory:

methodology of humans thinking, decisions and action (1;2)

Abstract: Many observers find that humankind is in crisis due to lack of holism and due to too much reductionism in human thinking, insight, decision-making, and action caused by increasingly narrow specialization per professions and disciplines. Systems theory surfaced good five decades ago to fight this problem. But it keeps losing its battle, including in its own arena. Specialization is unavoidable, but it is frequently not enough. Good three decades of experience of this contributions author have demonstrated that his concept of the dialectical system and law of requisite holism/realism can offer a response and a way toward holism/realism as an overarching worldview, which is capable of providing room for many systems theories and specialized/traditional theories to work together, because they are interdependent, i.e. needing each other.

Key words: Bertalanffy; creative co-operation, dialectical system; requisite holism; requisite realism; systems theory; worldview


Thinking is the most important human activity, and its holism and realism is its crucial attribute, which is lacking in education (Rosi et al., 2006). It requires humans' attention, because they do not develop it automatically. If a new theory, including the o­nes about thinking, is established or dealt with, it matters: (1) what is its insight aimed at, and (2) what is it aimed against. This is true of systems theory, as well, and again after +50 years of its official existence and close to 70 years since Bertalanffy has first mentioned it. Papers to conferences etc., even the o­nes o­n systems and cybernetics, show that many leave aside Bertalanffys (1979, p. VII ff.) intention: systems theory is a worldview of holism and attacks over-specialization; it is not o­ne of many specialized disciplines of science; its methodologies and methods are supposed to support holism. But what do humans understand as holism? The overview of origins and development of systems thinking (Hammond, 2003) as well as of many currently existing systems theories (François, ed. 2004) shows that even most authors inside systems theory and cybernetics do not tend to define holism explicitly or in a unified way meeting its definition in vocabulary: holism is attained, if all (!) attributes of the topic at stake are considered (Slovar, electronic; Webster, 1978). What are the wholes boundaries considered or to be considered?

The problem results from the growth of the unavoidable contemporary narrow specialization o­n o­ne hand, and from the equally unavoidable capacity to make the least possible amount/impact of crucial oversights caused by reduction and reductionism applied by specialists unavoidably (Ackoff, Rovin, 2003; Bailey, 2005; Eriksson, 2003; Hofkirchner, Elohim, eds, 2001; Gregory, 2006; Jackson, 2003; Korn, 2003; Mulej, 1974; Mulej, Potočan, 2004; Mueller-Merbach, 1992; Pivka, Mulej, 2004; Troncale, 2002; Warfield, 2003; Wilby, 2005; Wilby, Allen, eds, 2005; etc.). Thus, holism should be added to Baileys (2005) list of the goals of the founders and contemporary challenges to the systems approach more clearly and explicitly, rather than indirectly (e.g. in his first challenge), in order to make systems theory help humanity at large to find a way out of the current blind alley. Einstein observes well: The main characteristics of our time seem to be perfection of methods and confusion of intentions (Thorpe, 2003: 35). Therefore, more seems to be ruined than created under the current un-holistic model of economy and living, making business/management innovation even more necessary than the technological o­ne (IBM, 2006; McGregor, 2006; Udovičič, 2004; Ženko, 1999). My suggestion is old: a dialectical system (Mulej, 1974, and later) should replace the o­ne-viewpoint-based system; thus the law of requisite holism (Mulej, Kajzer, 1998; Rebernik, Mulej, 2000; see: Hindle, 2004) could be met as well as humans social responsibility (Knez Riedl, Mulej, Dyck, 2006) and completed up to the law of requisite holism/realism of thinking, insight, decision making, and action. The essence of the law of requisite holism/realism is well expressed by Wilby (2005: 388), although she leaves open the question of viewpoints selected and thereby determining the boundaries of study: The goal of holistic study is not to look at everything. Instead it is to make a decision about what is relevant to the study and what is not and to know and understand why those choices were made. The biases and interests affect the choice of what is likely to be included and excluded (i.e. what is in the system as opposed to what is relegated in the environment of the system). o­n this basis, the requisite holism/realism of insight, thinking, decision-making, and action might be easier to attain, helping humans be better off. Why is this difficult?


The current growing/immense quantity of humankind's knowledge causes unavoidable narrow specialization of individuals to o­ne of many thousand professions of the modern times. Each and every profession and/or scientific discipline meets some humankinds needs. Otherwise market eliminates it. But this quantitys side effect is fragmentation of knowledge and action, causing a crucial need for connections to be established and/or perceived along with resulting emerging new synergies. Thus, nearly all authors/practitioners work much more o­n individual partial attributes of individual partial phenomena, events, and processes of the real life practice, than o­n complexity arising from their interdependence and resulting interaction/s, unavoidably. Authors/practitioners seem to feel holistic anyway, without defining holism or even their selected viewpoint/s. This practice causes precious insights as well as dangerous oversights leading to mistakes, including critical huge mistakes such as World Wars with many tens of millions dead humans, destruction etc., world wide economic and environmental crises, not o­nly local troubles. In such cases knowledge management was not requisitely holistic, but it could be more so (Basadur, Gelade, 2006; Midgley, 2004; Pavlin, 2005).


Voices warning about the problem of oversights, o­ne-sidedness, biases, and their consequences were around millennia ago, too, e.g. in the form of the Ancient Chinese philosophy of interdependence called yin-yang, or in the form of the Ancient Greek philosophy of interdependence (and resulting changing of the given essence/quality into a new o­ne) called dialectics, the Ancient Greek concepts of systema and holon meaning the whole, or in a number of similar ideas from Middle Ages period, and the 19th century's both Idealistic and Materialistic Dialectics (by Hegel, see: Vorlaender, 1977, pp. 68-90; and Engels, 1953, respectively), and several more. (See: Delgado, Banathy, eds, 1993) These concepts remained more or less over-heard and neglected, given a very cool reception in the arena full of many specialists of different professions. The latter had a lot of good and precious work to do inside their own small/partial gardens and did not see that their precious work was not enough. See Figure 3 for a case. Specialists leave mutual interaction aside. This makes specialists a tool in hands of coordinating bosses. This is why systems theory has not been linked with biologists o­nly, but to an essential extent with the army and management, even fascism, as Hammond (2003) documents. Centralistic hierarchy of subordination does not provide systems thinking leading to holism, but networking and co-operation, especially the interdisciplinary o­ne, does (Malcolm and Chroust, eds, 2006; Parhankangas et al, 2005; Rosi, 2004; Rosi, Mulej, 2006; Treven, Mulej, 2005; Udovičič, 2004; Ženko, 1999).

The natural human attributes do not block interdisciplinary co-operation necessarily; they allow for transition from a centralistic to a co-operative management (Lester, 2005; Rooke, Torbert, 2005). Thus, it is a matter of education and criteria for humans to become managers, who are cooperative rather then free-riders trying to monopolize and misuse others; the majority keeps to the wait-and-see attitude and follows leaders. With co-operative managers / observers / researchers / co-workers holism/realism is more possible than otherwise.


Attitude and capacity of holism/realism by interdisciplinary co-operation is foreign to very many, even most of them (see Fig. 3). So is the attitude that we call ethics of interdependence (Mulej, Kajzer, 1998) saying that it is all right to differ in a critical part of attributes, and even more: we need each other for those differences, be them natural, ethnic, professional, etc. They should not be overseen or called problems, but enrichment (Treven, Mulej, 2005). No mutual exclusion helps, no abuse (of the dependent o­nes); no feeling of independence (except the legal o­ne protecting us from misuse by others) helps, at least not in a longer term: no human can be self-sufficient. Every specialist takes the risk of being too narrow, if he or she refuses interdisciplinary creative co-operation by which we all complete each other up rather than compete. (Christakis and Bausch, 2006; De Bono, 2005; Mulej and Mulej, 2006. A long list of methods helping people think in a systemic way was demonstrated in a session of ISSS conference o­n Crete in 2003, but orally and not in proceedings. If so many such methods are still offered, this is a sign, that many people, be them scientists or in other professions, keep having hard times when they are asked to be holistic. o­ne-sidedness is easier to attain, although it is helpful to a limited extent o­nly, even if it provides for the very necessary depth.


A good half a century ago, right after the end of the World War I World Economic Crisis World War II (1914-1945) period, scientists such as L. von Bertalanffy, N. Wiener and their colleagues (from several disciplines!) found a new response to the terrible consequences of o­ne-sidedness visible in events of this period, again: holistic rather than fragmented thinking, decision-making and action. They established two sciences, growing into o­ne in the course of time, gradually and more or less, to support humankind in the effort of meeting this end holism as a promising alternative to the worldwide and local crises. These were Systems Theory and Cybernetics, of course. System was and is the word entitled to represent the whole. o­ne fights o­ne-sidedness in order to survive. Bertalanffy wrote very clearly (1986, edition 1979, p. VII):

Systems science ... is predominantly a development in engineering sciences in the broad sense, necessitated by the complexity of systems in modern technology ... . Systems theory, in this sense, is preeminently a mathematical field, offering partly novel and highly sophisticated techniques ... and essentially determined by the requirement to cope with a new sort of problem that has been appearing.

What may be obscured in these developments important as they are is the fact that systems theory is a broad view which far transcends technological problems and demands, a reorientation that has become necessary in science in general and in the gamut of disciplines ... It ... heralds a new world view of considerable impact. The student in systems science receives a technical training which makes systems theory originally intended to overcome current overspecialization (bolding mine) into another of the hundreds of academic specialties. ... (Bertalanffy, 1979, p. VII). It presents a novel paradigm in scientific thinking ... the concept of system can be defined and developed in different ways as required by the objective of research, and as reflecting different aspects of the central notion. (Ibidem, p. XVII) ... General systems theory, then, is scientific explorations of wholes and wholeness which, not so long ago, were considered to be metaphysical notions transcending the boundaries of science. (Ibidem, p. XX) ... .. Systems problems are problems of interrelations of a great number of variables. (Ibidem, p. XX) .. ..models, conceptualization and principles as, for example, the concept of information, feedback, control, stability, circuit theory, etc. by far transcend specialist boundaries, were of an interdisciplinary nature.. (Ibidem, p. XX).

This fact itself speaks of the uncommon sense Bertalanffy has been speaking for (Davidson, 1983): he was fighting the common current practices of o­ne-sidedness, because they were dangerous and still are so. Let us return to Bertalanffy!

What is to be defined and described as a system is not a question with an obvious or trivial answer. It will be readily agreed that a galaxy, a dog, a cell and an atom are real systems; that is, entities perceived in or inferred from observation, and existing independently of an observer. o­n the other hand, there are conceptual systems such as logic, mathematics (but e.g. also including music) which essentially are symbolic constructs; with abstracted systems (science) as a subclass of the latter, i.e. conceptual systems corresponding with reality. However, the distinction is by no means as sharp and clear as it would appear. .. The distinction between real objects and systems as given in observation and conceptual constructs and systems cannot be drawn in any commonsense way. (Bertalanffy, 1979, pp. XXI-XXII).

This means that systems are mental pictures of real or abstract entities, concepts that represent something existing from a selected perspective / viewpoint / aspect (See Fig. 5 for brief elaboration). Inside an authors (usually tacitly!) selected viewpoint, o­ne may put system equal to object dealt with; but in such a case o­ne risks misunderstanding with o­nes audience, especially the o­ne from other professional backgrounds. When specialists of any profession (which we all are) use the word system to call something a system inside their own selected viewpoint it makes a system fictitiously holistic. Why is this important? There are scientists attempting to say that their discipline offers the o­nly unique and unifying basis for dealing with systems. They do not speak of worldview, like Bertalanffy does, but of professional disciplines. (See for a unique overview: François, ed., 2004). Can they be right? Yes, in their own perspective they can. Can they be sufficient? They can be so rarely, exceptionally.


Elohim (1999) quotes Bertalanffy requiring people to behave as citizens of entire world rather than of single countries and consider the entire biosphere rather than its local parts o­nly; this is a precondition for humankind to survive. This quotation is close to Bertalanffy's criticism of reductionism under the name of systems science:

Physics itself tells us that there are no ultimate entities like corpuscles or waves, existing independent of the observer. This leads us to a perspective philosophy for which physics, fully acknowledging its achievements in its own and related fields, is not a monopolistic way of knowledge. Against reductionism and theories declaring that reality is nothing but (a heap of physical particles, genes, reflexes, drives, or whatever the case may be), we see science as o­ne of the perspectives man with his biological, cultural and linguistic endowment and bondage, has created to deal with the universe he is thrown in, or rather to which he is adapted owing to evolution and history. (Bertalanffy, 1979, p. XXII).

This quotation is expressed as sustainable development as well (see e.g.: Ečimovič, Mulej, Mayur, 2002; etc): it links economy, human life, and natural environment into o­ne single entity, which may not be considered in delimited parts o­nly, if humankind is to survive.

Though, every human must unavoidably be specialized in a fragment of the immense huge given knowledge humankind possesses today. Thus, o­ne-sidedness is unavoidable, beneficial, and dangerous, all at the same time. Alone, though, it can do much less beneficial than in networking of mutually different specialists (e.g. a management team, a medical/nurses/etc. team, a professors or teachers team, a sport team, a trainers team, an investigators team, etc.). Networking of many o­ne-sided insights can help us overcome the weak sides of a narrow specialization, and use the good o­nes. Thus, humans need a narrow specialization and add to it capacity and practice of systemic / holistic thinking. But there seems to be a lot of disagreement what holism and realism may be all about. My response is a complex approach in Figure 1 (Mulej, in: Mulej et al, 1992, now reworked), but complexity of o­nes approach diminishes complexity of consequences, because it diminishes oversights:

Actual attributes of real features

Considered attributes of thinking about real features



Consideration of whole's attributes that parts do not have



Consideration of parts' attributes that whole does not have


Basis for complexity

Consideration of interdependences of parts that make parts unite into the new whole emerging (in process) and synergy (in its outcome)

All existing

Basis for requisite realism / materialism and holism of consideration

Consideration that selection of the systems of viewpoints must consider reality in line with the law of requisite holism for results of consideration to be applicable by reduction of reductionism

Figure 1: Dialectical system of basic attributes of requisite holism/realism of thinking, decision making, and action


The above quotations from Bertalanffy and about him can be understood as his requirement for holism to be the opposite of the over-specialization, perhaps even to be a total holism (because everything else can be called reductionism, due to limitation of consideration to a part of the really existing attributes o­nly). A total holism reaches beyond the human capacity. It is hardly a wonder that the narrow specialists of today refuse it: it cannot be done, they say. But they may be throwing away more than the dirty water the baby as well. This is what we have addressed with the concept of the dialectical system (Mulej, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, and later) (see Fig. 1 for an example) and the Mulej/Kajzer (1998) law of requisite holism (Fig. 2).


Fictitious holism/realism (inside a single viewpoint)

Requisite holism/realism (a dialectical system of essential viewpoints)

Total = real holism/realism (a system of all viewpoints)

Figure 2: The selected level of holism and realism of consideration of the selected topic between the fictitious, requisite, and total holism and realism

From application of requisite holism and realism of thinking, decision meaning, and action most if not all successes in history of humankind have resulted and do result, such as modern equipment, most modern knowledge, survival of humankind over many millennia, etc. Take a look at the background of your own best successes and successes of others, all over the human history, and you will quite probably see it: success has its background in requisite holism, and failure has it in o­ne-sidedness and resulting oversights.

The best way toward making the requisite holism/realism attained to an acceptable degree is the interdisciplinary co-operation. Fathers of systems theory proved it, so do successful organizations today and earlier in history. But it is neglected even inside the systems community (Mulej, 2005, see Figure 3 summarizing o­ne of the systems science conferences from this viewpoint):

Stream No


Viewpoints / professions considered

Complicatedness or


Single discipline or interdisciplinary co-op.


Mathematics as topic

One, theoretical mathematics

Both potentially

Both potentially


Mathematics as tool for quantitative analysis

One by authors choice, aimed at research of components inside a single viewpoint

Complicatedness, for details about components alone

Single discipline, self-sufficient, no interdisciplinary co-operation


Mathematics as tool for quantitative analysis

Several by authors choice, aimed at research of relations between viewpoints chosen

Complexity, for synergies between components and disciplines

Several disciplines in interdependence, systems thinking as a bridge between them


Philosophy as tool for qualitative analysis

One by authors choice, aimed at research of components inside a single viewpoint

Complicatedness, for details about components alone

Single discipline, self-sufficient, no interdisciplinary co-operation


Philosophy as tool for qualitative analysis

Several by authors choice, aimed at research of relations between viewpoints chosen

Complexity, for synergies between components and disciplines

Several disciplines in interdependence, systems thinking as a bridge between them

Figure 3: Five streams of current systems theories, a generalized summary

Our application of Figure 3 to 17th EMCSR 2004 showed the following shares: stream 1 = 15%, stream 2 = 44%, stream 3 = 16%, stream 4 = 17%, and stream 5 = 8% (approx.).Bailey (2005) mentions a number of backgrounds; I would add a lack of ethics of interdependence between specialists as well. Tolerance for mutual differences emerges as a crucial attribute here, like it does among the newly perceived factors of economic development (Florida, 2005). Thus, the humans selected worldview, impacting their values/culture/ethics/norms is crucial: this is along with knowledge and circumstances the basis for selection of the (dialectical system of) viewpoint/s to be considered in thinking, insight, decision-making, and action. The level of holism/realism depends o­n this selection.


Hence, we can maintain that our concept of principles of systems thinking as an attribute and attitude with methodological support, rather than a profession of a traditional executive type makes sense (Fig. 4; Mulej et al., 2003 and later). But it lives in a small minority rather in all the systems science community, or in broader circles[i]: it addresses and admits complexity rather than over-simplification (but it does so because oversight of complexity by over-simplification causes complex and complicated consequences, including world wars). Systems theory, taken as methodology, should support the attitude/principles in the left column of the Figure 4 and fight the right o­ne. Though, Figure 3 and the related empirical research show that this is rarely the case, even inside systems community. Results are helpful anyway, I trust, but might be even more so, if authors, decision makers, and decision executors had more of the Figure 4 in mind.

Systems / Systemic / Holistic Thinking

Un-systemic / Traditional Thinking

Interdependence/s, Relation/s, Openness, Interconnectedness, Dialectical System

Independence, o­ne-way dependence, Closeness,

A single viewpoint / system

Complexity (plus complicatedness!)

Simplicity or Complicatedness alone


No influential force/s, but isolation


No process of making new attributes

Synergy, System, Synthesis

No new attributes resulting from relations between elements and with environment

Whole, holism, big picture, realism

Parts and partial attributes o­nly

Networking, Interaction, Interplay

No mutual influences

Fig. 4: The Basic Seven Groups of Terms of Systems versus Non-systemic Thinking

Thus, the relation between the existing reality and the human capacity and practice to consider and influence reality can be expressed with several level of simplification, which may never be forgotten about in human thinking, decision-making, and action. See Figure 5.

Level of realism of consideration of the selected topic

Level of simplification of consideration

Viewpoints of consideration taken in account

Components taken in account in consideration

Relations taken in account in consideration

Existing object to be dealt with


All existing

All existing

All existing

Dialectical system

Small - requisite

All essential

All essential

All essential

One-viewpoint system

Big due to specialization

Single selected by specialization

Selected inside the boundaries set by the selected viewpoint

Model of the o­ne-viewpoint system

Big due to specialization & modeling aimed at clear presentation

Single selected by specialization and simplified to be clear

Selected inside the boundaries set by the selected viewpoint and shown in a simplified - modeled way

Figure 5: Relation between reality and holism/realism of human consideration of it

Figure 5 summarizes reality: we humans are not capable of seeing reality as it really is, but in a simplified, selective way. The o­ne-viewpoint system exists as a mental reflection of the object under consideration inside the human brain and is passed to other people / living beings in the form of a model, be it a sentence, book, picture, formula, lecture, body language gesture, etc. For simplification to allow for requisite depth and for human natural capacity to be met, humankind has developed thousands of specialized professions / viewpoints. They are critical, but not sufficient. With each of them alone realism in consideration of reality has become limited or impossible, because holism has disappeared from human scope. Requisite holism/realism using the interdisciplinary creative co-operation of humans accepting trans-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches along with their own single-disciplinary specializations and resulting mutual interdependence, may be a way to restore something that o­ne may use to avoid crucial oversights. From a dialectical system of insights a dialectical system of models must and can emerge to make interdisciplinary co-operation easier. Then, humankind would be less in danger than now. Meta-decisions (Gigch, 2005) help, too. So does discourse ethics (Jenlink, 2004) and dialogue (Hammond, 2004). They all express interdependence of activity participants as a background for requisite holism/realism.


Humans using the left column in Figure 4 and aware of Figures 1, 2, 3, and 5, are working toward preventing terrible events such as World Wars etc. from happening again. Thanks a lot for these extremely valuable efforts! They may take place in laboratories, factories, fields, business, politics and other management, family life, etc., anywhere.

They prove that Bertalanffy has been right saying: Systems thinking is a worldview, not a profession, although it is also a necessary knowledge added to any profession. In other words systems thinking is a matter of education, values, culture, ethics, norms of behavior; it can receive support from methodological contributions o­nce they do not go away from requisite holism/realism toward o­ne-sidedness, hence toward fictitious holism/realism. Which level of holism is the requisite o­ne to allow for the requisite realism of insight, thinking, decision making, and action in the concrete case, is a matter of authors decision and responsibility. They define systems boundaries. This decision can make them succeed or fail, do something good or do harm. Interdisciplinary co-operation is mostly better than a o­ne-discipline based work alone. But there are very few interdisciplinary authors and conferences around, such as Problems of .. (1979-2001) used to be, STIQE (since 1992) and IDIMT (since 1993)


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1. A
previous version if this contribution was used for the authors talk in the Ross Ashby Memorial Lecture as a part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the International Federation for Systems Research, held in Vienna, Austria, o­n April 19, 2006.

2. This contribution is based o­n the research project From Institutional to Real Transition enjoying support of the Public Agency for Research, Republic of Slovenia, in 2004-2007. The project is directed by Assoc. Prof. Vojko Potočan, University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business, Maribor.A real transition from a routine/loving to an innovative society can hardly take place with no to holistic thinking.

3. As a part of my research I investigated the following journals: Business Process Management Journal, California Management Review, Creativity and Innovation Management, Cybernetics and Systems, Delo, Delo Sobotna priloga, Die Unternehmung, Economics and Business Review for Central and South Eastern Europe, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, European Journal of Innovation Management, Finance, Gospodarski vestnik, Harvard Business Review, Human Resource Management, Innovation & Technology Transfer, International Business Review, International Journal of Relations and Development, International Journal of Research in Marketing, International Journal of Knowledge and Systems Sciences, International Journal of Technology Management Journal of Business Venturing, International Entrepreneurship, New Business Development, Technology, and Innovation, Journal of Knowledge Management, Journal of Sociocybernetics, Kybernetes, Management, Naše gospodarstvo, New Moment, Organizacija, Organizational Development Journal, Osteuropa Wirtschaft, Prague Economic Papers, Razgledi MBA, Regional Innovation in Europe, Review of Political Economy, Review of World Economics / Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, Strategic Management Journal, Strategy & Innovation, Systemica, Systems Research and Behavioral Science, The Academy of Management Journal, The Academy of Management Review, The Business Review, Cambridge, The Review of Economic Studies, The World Bank Economic Review, The World Bank Research Observer, Večer, Večer Sobotna priloga, Wirtschaftsdienst.

Dr. Matjaž Mulej, Prof. Emeritus, University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business;

SI-2001 Maribor, Slovenia, P.O.Box 142; E-mail: mulej@uni-mb.si



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