Prof. Angela Espinosa

The Viability and Sustainability (V&S) Approach Exploring Innovative Organisational Arrangements for Sustainable Self-Governance

Professor Angela Espinosa

co-author Professor Jon Walker
Reader, The Business School
University of Hull
England, UK

Abstract: Sustainability research has grown significantly in the last few decades, given the evidence of massive global changes in the weather and conditions of many ecosystems, caused by our current industrial and international development patterns. Nevertheless we still need to find out better ways to organise our businesses and institutions to be able to cope with the sustainability challenges of this century. In this talk the author will present recent research in complex systems theory that suggest to explore innovative organisational structures and associated methodologies, to design more adaptive and resilient organisations and networks.
In particular it will present a developments in S Beer's Viable System Model: The V&S approach, which clarifies how can we use the VSM as a meta-language to talk about viability and long-term sustainability of business, communities and societies, with particular focus on the governance challenges associated with long-term sustainability. It first presents the V&S criteria for mapping organisations and networks, the "Methodology to support self-transformation, 'and the Framework to explore Sustainable Governance. Then it will summarise learning from a few recent applications in eco-communities and eco-networks, in both Europe and Latin America, these tools.
Finally it reflects on the research implications in using this methodology and associated framework in the context of organisations of different sizes and scales, aiming to improve their sustainability and self-governance.

Biography: Angela was borned in Bogota, Colombia and graduated as a computer and systems engineer in 1981; she then got a PhD on Organisational Cybernetics from Aston Business School, UK in 1995. She worked originally as an Information Systems Manager, in private and public enterprises, and then as the Director of the Secretariat of Information and Systems of the Colombian President's Office (1990 - 1992). From 1993 to 2002, she taught systems and cybernetics in Los Andes University and provided consultancy for both private and public organisations. She led projects involving the restructuring of national auditing practices, the application of systems tools to national educational and environmental policies, and the introduction of participation in political systems. In this period she published extensively in Colombia and lead hundreds of postgraduate dissertations in systems and cybernetics.
Since 2002 she has been researching and teaching at Hull University Business School. Since 2009 she has been also an invited fellow at Los Andes Business School for six months a year. She has written and co-edited several books, supervised several MSc and PhD dissertations, published many journal papers and several books on the application of cybernetics and systems thinking. In the last decade, she has focused her research on complexity and sustainability, specifically on self-organisation in SMEs, eco-communities and networks.
Her academic work has been recognised since 1998 where she was appointed as the Representative for Colombia in the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics; in 2002 the International Federation on Systems Research (IFSR) and Vienna ty gave her the Ashby Lecture; Kybernetes: an International Journal on Systems and Cybernetics gave her the Norbert Wiener Award in 2007; and Emeraldi Litrati has gave her two awards for outstanding paper and most commented paper (2007, 2012)