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This programme shows how the systems questions discussed in the text of Unit 3 can be applied to one particular organization namely Oxfam. There are essentially four parts to the programme. First, ...some of the back ground information on Oxfam is presented to help the student appreciate the problems within Oxfam. Next the first four groups of questions in the unit, which are essentially factual in nature, are applied to bring out the inputs, sub-systems etc. within Oxfam. The groups of more "controversial" questions are then posed, and the views of the Deputy Director of Oxfam are taken as a sample response to these. In 1972 Lancaster University carried out a systems study of Oxfam over a period of several months, and the programme ends by high-lighting some important points about the relationship of the researcher to the organization he is studying.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: T242, Systems management
Item code: T242; 03
First transmission date: 25-03-1974
Published: 1974
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:30
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Producer: Andrew Millington
Contributors: A. Ross Barnett; Bob McCormick; Guy Stringer; Alan Thomas
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Inputs; Organisational systems; Researcher subjectivity; Sub-systems; Unit questions
Footage description: Shot of a simple systems diagram showing Oxfam's role in the world. Alan Thomas introduces the programme. It will examine ways in which the systems questions discussed in Correspondence Unit 3 can be applied to one particular organisation - Oxfam. Film sequence shows work of Oxfam in the field and in the U. K. Commentary by Thomas gives background information on Oxfam. Guy Stringer, Oxfam deputy director, explains the function of Oxfam. He discusses the disaster and development work done by Oxfam as well as the proportion of resources expended on each. Bob McCormick examines the first four questions from the correspondence unit as applied to Oxfam. 1. Has the system a name? 2. What kinds of things are its parts? 3. What decides whether a thing or person is part of the system? 4. What wider systems influence the system and what interactions does the system have with these wider systems? These questions are applied to Oxfam to bring out its inputs, subsystems, etc. Several diagrams are used as aids. Bob McCormick next examines the second group of questions from the correspondence unit as applied to Oxfam. 1. What are the system's inputs and outputs? A systems diagram is used to aid the discussion. 2. How can the system be broken into functional subsystems on an activity or process basis? More system diagrams are used by McCormick in his discussion. 3. What are the flows between these functional subsystems? McCormick uses information flow between subsystems as his example for the discussion. Film shots of Oxfam at work are used to illustrate the information flow. McCormick also uses a systems diagram to aid. Feed back and management instruction flow is shown on the diagram and discussed. What resources are employed at each stage? 5. How are the conditions controlled at each stage and what measures the efficiency of the process? McCormick next looks at the groups which make up Oxfam, Diagrams show the committee and executive hierarchy in the system. Guy Stringer discusses salaries and working conditions within Oxfam. McCormick next examines what he calls "pragmatic questions" in his study of Oxfam. 1. What special or chance events have recently occurred? 2. What relevant external changes or innovations are likely? 3. Are there any particular personalities or other factors at work? McCormick discusses the effect on Oxfam of the appointment of a new director. He discusses this in the light of questions 1 and 3 above. Shots of the Charities Commission, London (Inside and outside shots). Alan Thomas examines the next set of questions from group E of correspondence unit 3 - 1. What are the main objectives? 2. Can the achievement of the system's objectives be measured? 3. What are the main conflicts? Film shots of Oxfam activities. Commentary by G. Stringer expands on the activities shown on the film. He discusses questions 1 and 2. Guy Stringer next discusses question 3 in the context of Oxfam. He lists several examples of conflict within Oxfam. Dr. Ross Barnett who supervised the University of Lancaster team which carried out a systems study of Oxfam in 1972, discusses the relationship of the systems researcher to the system.
Master spool number: 6HT/71293
Production number: 00525_5130
Videofinder number: 785
Available to public: no