Volume 1 Issue 1 (2005)

Can Nature Teach us Good Research Practice? A Critical Look at Frederic Vester's Bio-cybernetic Systems Approach

Werner Ulrich
University of Fribourg, SWITZERLAND, and The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
Published March 5, 2005
  • complexity management,
  • holistic thinking,
  • interconnected thinking,
  • systems modeling,
  • corporate management,
  • energy planning,
  • environmental management,
  • sustainability,
  • infrastructure planning,
  • social planning,
  • social problems,
  • Frederic Vester
  • ...More


This is a book review of a somewhat unusual sort. It aims to introduce to the readers of JRP a book that ought to have been published but never has--the English version of Frederic Vester’s The Art of Network Thinking. I should mention that Vester himself proposed as title “The Art of Networked Thinking”; however, I prefer to speak of “network thinking.” This sounds less awkward and it conveys the central idea well--thinking in terms of networks. Unfortunately, there seems to be no completely satisfactory English translation of the phrase vernetztes Denken [pronounce: fer-nets-tes den-ken]. Its meaning is rather rich and includes notions of holistic (in the sense of integrated and global) thinking, of thinking in terms of multiple causation and dynamic interdependencies, in cycles rather than linear cause-effect chains, and so on.