Self organization

self organization is called mainly in the system theory a form of the system development, with which the form-giving arranging and limiting influences proceed from the elements of the organizing system. The organization applies less abstractly in the political use of the termthe life actually after not firm, of other certain rules and resembles therefore the autonomy term. It is used concretely with organizing maps.

Table of contents


Selforganized systems have i. D. R. four characteristics:

  1. Complexity: They are complex, if their parts are interlaced with one another by mutual, permanently changing relations. The parts can change likewise at any time. Complexity makes complete describability as well as predictableness more difficultthe behavior of systems.
  2. Self reference: Selforganizing systems are selbstreferentiell and exhibit an operational unanimity. That is called „each behavior of the system retroacts on itself and becomes the starting point for further behavior “. Operational closed systems do not act due toexternal environmental influences, but independently and solely responsible from itself out. Self reference represents however no contradiction in relation to the openness of systems.
  3. Redundancy: In organizing systems no separation between organizing, arranging or steering parts takes place. All parts of the system placepotential Gestalter. A hierarchy is void thereby.
  4. Autonomy: Selforganizing systems are autonomous, if the relations and interactions, which define the system as unit, are determined only by the system. Autonomy refers only to certain criteria, there onematerial and energetic exchange relationship with the environment further exists.


the term of the self organization became in the 50's of W. A. Clark and B. G. Farley coined/shaped:

“You recognized that itself operators, in a closedIt stands for relationship, somehow stabilizes and observed - to know still without a theory of the computable functions or the eigenvalue - the phenomenon that certain closed systems develop stable forms of the behavior after a certain time " (Heinz von Foerster and Bernhard Pörksen: Truth is the invention of a liar, 1998, S. 92).

In social systems can be observed, how order - independent of the actions of a supervisor - from the system develops out. This feature becomes as self organizationdesignated. The self organization is a term not only popular in the system theory. Both in social and in natural, physical, biological, chemical or economic systems meaning comes to it. Also the concept of the advice democracy and its sozio political beginnings goes of itout that the action clearance necessary for the self organization must be fought for against existing forms of the foreign regulation. According to this beginning humans can take only then their life into the hand, even if they control means of production and not for hierarchical organizationsare subjected.

The pre or prehistory of the self organization covers the period of the Greek-Roman antiquity to for instance for the center of the twentieth century. Already in the old Greece philosopher over chaos and turbulence as a cause of order, speculated. In the natural sciences eight tenth,nineteenth and early twentieth century dominated mechanistical ways of thinking, which among other things also in Darwins evolution theory reflects itself. The actual developing history of the self organization begins however only in the second half 20. Century. The relatively late time has several causes, firstprevented the prevailing mechanistical paradigm the necessary reorientation process, with self organization in connection standing phenomena was continued to ignore. At present cannot be spoken yet of a theory of organizing social systems or of empirically tested hypotheses.

The term owes to the universal applicabilitythe self organization its broad resonance.

self organization in the system theory

is the spontaneous occurrence of new, stable, efficient structures and behaviors (sample formation) in open systems far from the thermodynamic equilibrium is. The system must therebyEnergy to be supplied. It changes its fundamental structure as function of its experience and its environment. The interacting participants (system components, agents) act according to simple rules and create thereby from chaos order, without a vision from the entire development haveto have.

A simple case of (physical) self organization is z. B. the occurrence of convection cells when heating up liquids (Bénard experiment).

One finds the concept of the self organization within different science ranges such as z. B. Chemistry (arranged foldingand association of proteins, Helix education of the DNA,…), Biology, sociology etc.


over of self organization to speak to be able, must be fulfilled following (not from each other the independent) criteria:

  1. The evolution of a system into one spatially/temporally organized Structure without exterior effort
  2. the autonomous movement into ever smaller regions of the phase space (so-called Attraktoren)
  3. the development of correlations or spatiotemporal samples between before arguments, their development only under the influence of local rules stands

See also

self organization inthe management economics


the order dominant in organizing systems cannot be understood simply as result of an arranging part. It results rather to holistic, i.e. neither exclusively characteristics, still from activities of individual persons, individual as result, butby the interactions of all system parts. Order means to suspect and supplement regularity, which permits us to recognize absence or, incorrect to define etc. Order permitted thus humans to find sense ensures security and permits the tasks, authority and responsibilitiesto arrange. Self organization does not produce a grown, planned or consciously arranged order. It results due to human behavior, however without special organizational organization intention. Friedrich A. from Hayek a grown order calls also spontaneous order.

Spontaneous order becomes as informales Phenomenon outstandingly and was considered rather as interference source, since it can deviate from the formal organization, which is given by the management, and develop self-dynamics. A reorientation to the consequence „the basic idea over organization does not become “by from the management the plannedFirm's structures determines, but from those structures, which form and change as a function of the behavior of many coworkers permanently.

An important characteristic of the self organization is their prozessualer character. Process is the center of attention, not to structures. Order is in permanent development, structuresagainst it only snapshots are. Self organization causes through „interactive self structuring released organizational long-term change “. Selforganizational systems form „a closed whole “. The involved ones steer their views in principle in the inside of the system. Self organization rises from no individual or other obligations, but generally places „oneCharacteristic of systems “.

After E. Göbel can be differentiated between autonomous and autogenous self organization.

  • Autonomous self organization is present if order in enterprises develops. Order is regarded thereby as result of intentional and planned organization actions. A condition is that thoseMembers or groups sufficient scope of action receive, in order to be able to participate even in that it order concerning.
  • Autogenous self organization means that order develops due to the self-dynamics of complex dynamic systems automatically. The autogenous self organization is therefore the basis no conscious organization act.

pro and cons in the enterprise

positives of effects of the self organization

a strengthened self organization affect the motivation positively, since thereby to the own interests comes to more meaning. The work becomes more significant and more meaningfulexperiences, because the tasks are more holistic and more alternate-rich and the potentials of the coworkers are unfolded better.

the adaptability to different conditions gains ever more significance. An extension of the self-determination potential can improve the realization of adjustment need, there the coworkersmore overview and the purchase to the environment more strongly maintained.

  • Steering control

the more complex an enterprise is, the more wishes themselves the manager that the coworkers, who are to cooperate of their abilities make use, and itself after best knowledge andCertain steer and organize.

  • Expenditure of time and costs

the slogan „time are money “come the self organization to property, because a faster and smoother and therefore more economical adjustment is possible to changed circumstances.

negatives of effects of the self organization

  • excessive demand

It is quite conceivable that coworkers with strong leisure time orientation rather a prescribed Pensum settle, in order to have to argue as little as possible with „the necessary evil “work. Above all however the unusual liberty can at the beginning fear and excessive demand feelingsrelease.

  • Conflicts

the conflict potential is in principle higher, if distribution and authority regulations and be negotiated must be missing.

  • High requirement of the guidance

by the self organization can come it to an alteration of the official rules and autogenously developing rules, those thoseUncertainty over the actual valid order increase, this leads to a dilemma of the high-level personnel.

  • Expenditure of time and costs

frequent structural changes, whatever are still conflict-loaded, require time. Therefore the solution and decision making in organized systems can last longer than with clearDefaults from above.

the self organization

e.g. finds further applications application. in Entbürokratisierungsprozessen, dismantling of hierarchies, development of innovative structures, group development and group work, creation of human and efficiency-promoting conditions of work etc.

Foreign organization is the opposite to self organization. Haveto turn out the involved ones in the respective systems no possibility or their action processes themselves. It will proceed in accordance with strict, inflexible and unchangeable organizational rules. Examples and representatives; The bureaucracy beginning of max of webers, the Scientific management of Frederick WinslowTaylor.

self organization in instruction

in the course of pupil orientation for the 1970er years teaching concepts were developed, the self organization to the Lernergruppe to promote. Here the concept is cooperative learning to call as well as the method learning by teachings (LdL),in that the class as “neural net “is treated. - In analogy to neural ensembles - from intensive and long-term interactions between the Lernern stable connections are to result. In this way contents become within the group -as a cell ensemble - learns. Furthermore these “neural nets” are to design collectively knowledge. In the LdL method to the structure of the brain one ties, which contains organizational characteristics. In the sense of a collective construction of knowledge Internet encyclopedias are particularly promising, like the Wikipedia, which - metaphorically expressed - are about to assemble to the brain.


  • by Bak, How Nature Works: The Science OF Self Organized Criticality, Copernicus Books, 1996, ISBN 0387947914, ISBN 038798738X.
  • Elizabeth Göbel: Theory and organization of the self organization. Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 1998 ISBN 3-428-09434-4
  • Andreas's Dietrich: Self organization: Management from holistic perspective. Dt.Univ. - Verl., Gabler, Wiesbaden 2001 ISBN 3-8244-7406-9
  • Wolfgang Krohn/Günter Küppers: Self organization:Aspects of a scientific revolution. Vieweg, Wiesbaden 1990 ISBN 3-528-06371-8
  • George Tschare: Theory of the self organization in the restaurant and social sciences; Thesis (diploma), 1994
  • Christian Prehofer and Christian Bettstetter: Self Organization in Communication network: Principles and Design Paradigms. IEEECommunications of magazines, July 2005.
  • Farley, B. G.; Clark, W. A. (1954): Simulation OF self organizing system by digitally computers. I.R.E. Transactions on Inf. Theory 4, 76-84.

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