Document Type


Date of Award



Social sciences, Research, Methodology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Joseph Cornacchio

Second Advisor

Richard Dekmejian

Third Advisor

George Klir


The main development of this dissertation is a cohesive framework within which to integrate directions and results of general systems research, many of which have developed independently and in piecemeal fashion in recent decades. The primary motivation for the development of this framework stems from consideration of the fact that while general systems research has had a considerable impact on research in the social sciences, this impact has been mainly conceptual and has not served to provide the operational and methodological aids for research which are possible. The framework is based on consideration of general systems research as a methodological language lying between the abstract languages of mathematics, computer science and philosophy on the one hand and more reference oriented languages such as political science, sociology and anthropology on the other.

In Chapters I and II historical, philosophical and cultural aspects pertinent to the framework are considered as well as an elaboration of the framework’s motivation and objectives. Chapters III, IV and V develop the general systems conceptual foundation of the overall framework, based on the epistemological level hierarchy of general systems developed by Klir over the last decade. An important aspect of these chapters is a comparison of general systems results with methods and approaches which are commonly in use in the social sciences. These chapters also illustrate the manner in which existing methodological tools can be integrated into the framework as well as developing a particular general systems methodological tool which may be used for the solution of a basic general systems problem, that of the decomposition of an overall system (determination of structure).

The first part of Chapter VI organizes and integrates the material and considerations of the previous chapters as a framework which embodies interactive aspects between an investigator and an environment and between an investigator and the framework. This interaction is expressed as an ongoing process of problem formulation and problem solution. The framework which is defined is thus termed general systems problem solver.

The last part of Chapter VI then demonstrates the applicability and utility of the framework through its use in an overall investigation related to the study of conflict within nations. This part amply illustrates the value of the framework through derivation of specific system results which had been previously unrecognized even though the area has been extensively studied by alternate methods.

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