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Systems, Experts, and ComputersThe Systems Approach in Management and Engineering, World War II and After$
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Agatha C. Hughes and Thomas P. Hughes

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780262082853

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262082853.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Systems, Experts, and Computers

Thomas P. Hughes

Agatha C. Hughes

The MIT Press

The systems approach enjoyed a top spot among the minds of engineers, scientists, and managers during the early Lyndon Johnson administration. However, this trajectory of advocacy declined together with the reverses of the Vietnam War and the rise of a counterculture that associated large systems with the military, industry, and university complex, and with the Vietnam predicament. The decline in the popularity of the systems approach also resulted from the frequent failure of its practitioners to cope with complex urban problems involving political and social factors. Before this downward turn, however, an articulated systems approach unfolded that spawned new academic fields, new “sciences of management,” and new modes of engineering practice. This, in turn, brought to the surface a number of forms, including operations research, systems engineering, systems analysis, and system dynamics. Generally, it can be said that the systems approaches had their origins in the military realm and only that their application was only emphasized in the civil realm after 1960.

Keywords:   systems approach, Lyndon Johnson administration, Vietnam War, counterculture, complex urban problems, operations research, systems engineering, systems analysis, system dynamics, military realm

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