System Theory in Development

General System Theory, which was developed by Ludwig von Bertalanffy and others, provides an analytical framework that can be used to describe some of the many factors involved in development. It helps define some key issues such as assessing patterns of power and influence, deciding where to intervene, understanding the dynamics of inter-group relationships, and planning and carrying out development activities. Terms such as systems and sub-systems, closed and open boundaries, the transfer of energy or influence across boundaries and system balance (or homeostasis) as a system moves through time are used to clarify what can seem to be a bewildering array of information involved in development work.These and other relevant concepts are described in this paper.