Autopoiesis vs. social autopoiesis: critical evaluation and implications for understanding firms as autopoietic social systems

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The main objective of this study is to revisit the fundamental postulations of autopoietic self-production wrapped within the autopoietic six-point key and to investigate whether or not firms as specific social systems can be treated as autopoietic unities. In order to do so firms have to be defined as simple and composite unities whereupon their boundaries have to be clearly identifiable. The test of social autopoiesis reveals that firms can be viewed as autopoietic social systems that exist in the communicative space with employees' firm-specific communicative sub-domains as their components. Furthermore, it is argued that the social reification of autopoiesis (autokoinopoiesis) in firms is quintessentially interconnected with physical autopoiesis of their employees (autophysiopoiesis). Discontiguous focus on productivity as firms' obvious physical implication may thus be upgraded by a very social nature of ideactivity, firms' only real survival force.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-230
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of General Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • autopoiesis
  • firm
  • social system
  • ideactivity
  • communication

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