Preface

THIS book is intended for the student of management, whether he is in a formal academic program or in business. It treats the central framework underlying industrial activity. The goal is "enterprise design" to create more successful management policies and organizational structures.

Industrial dynamics is a way of studying the behavior of industrial systems to show how policies, decisions, structure, and delays are interrelated to influence growth and stability. It integrates the separate functional areas of management -- marketing, investment, research, personnel, production, and accounting. Each of these functions is reduced to a common basis by recognizing that any economic or corporate activity consists of flows of money, orders, materials, personnel, and capital equipment. These five flows are integrated by an information network. Industrial dynamics recognizes the critical importance of this information network in giving the system its own dynamic characteristics.

The approach is one of building models of companies and industries to determine how information and policy create the character of the organization. The "management laboratory" now becomes possible. The first step is to identify the problems and goals of the organization. The second is to formulate a model that shows the interrelationships of the significant factors. Such a model is a systematic way to express our wealth of descriptive knowledge about industrial activity. The model tells us how the behavior of the system results from the interactions of its component parts. These interactions are often more important than the pieces taken separately. Finally, proposed changes can be tried in the model and the best of them used as a guide to better management.

Industrial dynamics now becomes possible as a result of four foundations developed during the last twenty years. The theory of information feedback systems gives us a basis for understanding the goal-seeking, self-correcting interplay between the parts of a business system. Investigation of the nature of decision making in the context of modern military tactics forms a basis for understanding the place of decision making in industry. The experimental model approach to the design of complex engineering and military systems can be applied to social systems. The digital computer has become a practical, economical tool for the vast amount of computation required. These accomplishments now make it possible to cope with the greater complications that we find in the dynamics of industrial and economic behavior.

At M.I.T. we have found that industrial dynamics can be taught to management students of any age and experience. It can begin in the management curriculum any time from the first undergraduate year through to the special development programs for senior executives. During the 1961-1962 academic year, study projects in industrial dynamics are being extended to a new optional research program for freshmen entering M.I.T.

This volume is intended as a classroom text and also as a guide for practicing managers or management scientists who wish to explore the dynamic interactions within the business system.

-vii-

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