Russ Volckmann

Daryl S. Paulson, Ph.D., Competitive Business, Caring Busining. New York: Paraview Press, 2002. (with a Forward by Ken Wilber)

Let’s address the Forward first: Ken Wilber points out that this is one of the first integrated approaches to business to be published. “It is fresh, provocative, and daring. Although I do not necessarily agree with all the details–who does? – it is based on sound theory and research that anyone can test in the laboratory of his or her own business world.”

As Ken says, Paulson is “offering one of the very first integrated business models.” This model uses the familiar holon and holarchy. The holarchy includes four levels: team, company, industry and world environment. In his presentation there is an interesting integration of models and theories familiar to organization theorists from Mayo to Argyris to Senge.

Much of his perspective is on management and the management requirements for each level of the holarchy. For example, at the team level he applies the Hersey-Blanchard situational leadership model to address development within the quadrants of the team holon. Parallel to the telling, selling, participating and delegating stages of management behavior at the team level are the following stages of development of the team in the lower right quadrant:

  • training for effective teamwork
  • training on a systems perspective
  • participation in systems change
  • self-governance

The lower left (culture) equivalencies are:

  • anxiety reducing through team-building, encouragement
  • social belong and self-esteem within a unified team
  • establishing values
  • congruence with organizational goals.

Beyond the team there is an interesting examination of the management challenges in relation to the company, the industry and the environment. Overall, the individual levels of development (upper left quadrant) are:

  • formal operations at the team level
  • meta-systematic systems thinking at the company level
  • Paradigmatic systems of systems thinking at the industry level
  • Cross-Paradigmatic System of Systems of Systems Thinking at the environment level

Paulson’s conclusion summarizes the approach he has taken:
“…the concept of integral business is merely an integration of the best visions and practices of business, psychology, sociology, cultural studies, politics, systems-thinking, economics, and human science, and the synthesis of this knowledge into a growth bloom of possibilities for all humanity in the twenty-first century.”