The politics of openness

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Conference Proceeding
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The concern with openness is well established in organization theory providing a common language for observing, understanding and predicting system behaviours. Beside more conventional views of systems, which favour an objectivised view of relations between organizations and, therefore, recommendations for setting the conditions of their mutual openness, Luhmann’s theoretical framework shows that openness is problematic per se for social systems as organizations. Systems endogenously construct their differentiation from other systems through closure. Any systemic society is based on closure and specific cognitive rules, not on openness and objectivised communication. In the language of systems theory, openness is a lure as a systemic analysis of the fragmentation of power shows. We use Clegg’s (1989) ‘circuits’ approach to a systems theory of power to make connections with Luhmann (1979): there are many points of comparison between them, including the key role of events, the centrality of social constructions and the autopoietic nature of the circuits of power.
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