Anthony Stafford Beer

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Anthony Stafford Beer (September 25, 1926 - August 23, 2002)

In 1961 he launched SIGMA (Science in General Management Ltd), "which he ran in partnership with Roger Eddison. This was the first substantial operational research consultancy in the UK. Its staff numbered some 50 before Beer left in 1966 to join the International Publishing Corporation (IPC), which had been a SIGMA client. IPC was then the largest publishing company in the world, and Beer was appointed development director. In this role, he pushed IPC into new technologies, many IT-based. He coined the term "data highway", 30 years before "information highway" came into vogue.

"From 1970 he operated as an independent consultant. For over two years, until Chile's President Allende was overthrown in 1973, Beer worked on a new cybernetics-based control system to be applied to the entire social economy of Chile. This was to be a real-time computerised system, an extremely ambitious project given the technology then available...

"From the publication of his first book, Cybernetics And Management (1959), a systems approach to the management of organisations was his central concern. In this he built on the foundations of cybernetics laid down by Norbert Wiener, Ross Ashby, and his mentor Warren McCulloch. A series of four books based on his Viable System Model were published during the 1970s, of which The Brain Of The Firm is the most celebrated.

"In the 1990s he turned his attention to a complementary approach, introduced in his 1994 book Beyond Dispute: The Invention Of Team Syntegrity. Team Syntegrity is a participatory method for enlisting the creativity of substantial groups to develop solutions to shared issues. Non-hierarchical and democratic, it has been widely adopted, with a growing international network..." [1]

Related Books

  • Harnden, R and Leonard, A. (Eds.), How Many Grapes Went into the Wine: Stafford Beer on the Art and Science of Holisitic Management; John Wiley, Chichester, 1994.
  • David Whittaker, Stafford Beer: A Personal Memoir (Includes an interview with Brian Eno) Wavestone Press, Charlbury, 2003.
  • David Whittaker (Ed.), Think Before you Think: Social Complexity and Knowledge of Knowing; (Selected writings of Stafford Beer with life chronology), Foreword by Brian Eno, Wavestone Press, Charlbury, 2009.

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Stafford Beer, organizational web page, accessed April 12, 2012.