Vickers' concept of 'relationship-maintenance' as an alternative to 'goal-seeking'models of organisation: a difference in the notion of control

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The concept of ‘goal-seeking’ has had a powerful influence on thinking about organizations. Whilst the concept is undeniably useful it is argued that it is also a very narrow concept of organization which can limit the way in which we think about human decision making and action. Vickers’ idea of relationship-maintenance is reviewed as a richer concept to help us think about human activity systems such as organizations. The differences between goal-seeking and relationship-maintenance are explored and explained by reference to the different way in which the concept of ‘control,’ or ‘regulation,’ is incorporated within each.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-274
Number of pages14
JournalSystemic Practice and Action Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005



  • goal-seeking
  • relationship-maintenance
  • regulation
  • appreciative system
  • control

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