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Scientific paper


Shape of things to come: From the ‘laws of form’ to management in the post-growth economy

André Reichel

Entry type:
Scientific paper

Year of publication:

ephemara journal



Keywords: post-growth, theory of the firm, system theory, laws of form, Niklas Luhmann

Abstract: Departing from George Spencer-Brown’s Laws of form and the works of German sociologist Dirk Baecker, a formal model of the firm in the post-growth economy is developed. In following a post-classical approach – and some reference to system theory by Niklas Luhmann as well as the works on autonomous systems by Francisco Varela – we, first, show the explanatory power of Spencer-Brown’s indicational notation for conceptualizing organizational and managerial problem situations, thus contributing a novel approach to the theory of the firm. Secondly, model insights about the nature of the firm, its management, and its relation to a changing environment with limits to economic expansion and increased societal demands are contrasted with existing strands of more classical managerial research and their findings. Thus, it is possible to theoretically substantiate new perspectives on the future ‘hard core’ of management practice around the notions of ethics, values, and collaboration, while also describing the scope and direction of changes in the firm’s societal, economic, and ecological environments.

ephemera, volume 17(1): 89-118

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