Metaphorum Announcement


Designing Governance

VSM as a tool for effective and liberatory governance


May 5th & 6th 2005

Geary Institute/Institute for the Study of Social Change,

National University of Ireland Dublin (UCD)

Belfield, Dublin 4


Dublin Metaphorum Programme


For directions on getting to UCD see: Please also refer to the attached map of the Belfield Campus of UCD.


The meeting will take place in the seminar room of the Institute for the Study of Social Change/Geary Institute, which is area 51 on the campus map provided. Entrance to college for most participants will be at area 1.


Wednesday 4th May


7:00 -9:00 Senior Common Room, Room B104 in Area 14 on map, UCD Belfied: Salon Philosophique with Margeret Heath and Ruth Egan. See: Dinner at 9:30 at Donnybrook Fair.


Thursday 5th May


9:00-9:30: Registration at the Institute for the Study of Social Change/Geary Institute, Ground Floor Seminar Room. Conference fee will be ˆ70 for members and ˆ130 for non-members, payable in cash (ˆ). For waiver please contact Dr Paul Stokes at Membership details can be had from Leonie Solomons at



Chair: A. Moscardini          9:30 – 12:30

Session 1


Paul Stokes

Designing Governance

Angela Espinosa

Designing self governed communities with the VSM

Luc Hoebeke

Representative democracy vs. participation: system 3 and system 5 characteristics

Steve Wright

Looming struggles over border control


Lunch 12:30 – 2:30 in the Norah Green Room, UCD Belfield


Chair: P. Stokes                 2:30 – 5:30

Session 2


Leonie Solomons & Alfredo Moscardini

Reflecting Sri Lanka’s peace quest in VSM iconographic language

Andrey Sergeyev

Using the VSM to Understand an Emergent Post-Soviet Economy

Leonid Ototsky

Stafford Beer’s work in Russia and beyond

Rod Thomas

Plans for reform versus utopian blueprints: On the difference between diagnosis and design


Dinner in Eden, Temple Bar, Dublin City from 7:30PM


Friday 6th May


Chair: A. Leonard               9:30 – 12:30

Session 3


Ern Reynolds

Political Physics: or, How Westerners Think

Margeret Heath

Cybernetics and Utopia: The Role of Imagination (??)

Stephanie Heuer

Somebodies and Nobodies, overcoming the abuse of rank


Maurice Yolles

Knowledge Cybernetics



Lunch on Campus at a variety of venues


Chair: M. Yolles                 2:30 – 4:30

Session 4:

Issues of Organization

Allenna Leonard

Accountability, Risk and the Systems Approach

Stefan M. Wasilewski

Rationalising Communication & Decision-Making as an Enterprise Risk Metric

Ralf-Eckhard Türke

RET_eGovernance-Balancing Interactions

Raul Espejo

Towards Inclusive Governance


4:30 – 5:15: Metaphorum Wrap-Up


Dinner in Ragazzi, 6.00 PM, Dalkey, County Dublin.



Dublin Metaphorm Summary


Last May 5th and 6th Metaphorum developed the conference “Designing Governance” in National University of Ireland, Dublin. Paul Stokes organized the event.


The first morning the presentations (P Stokes, L Hoebeck and A. Espinosa),  went into theoretical aspects regarding the framework that organisational cybernetics offers to re-understand society and nation states, to understand self governed communities and to design representative democracies. The last presentation from S Wright introduced recent research on weapons for social control and open questions on the future and ethics of such developments.


The afternoon we heard L Solomons research on using the VSM in the Sri Lanka’s peace process as well as A Sergeyev proposal to analyse the transition to a post soviet economy in Ukraine, using the VSM to describe structural constraints and provide criteria for economic re-design. L Ototsky send us a report on applications of the VSM in Russia’s university education; R. Thomas made a critical analysis of the ideas of autonomy inherent to the VSM in comparison to other philosophical and scientific approaches to autonomy in individuals and organisations.


The second morning, E Reynolds started with a debate on what he coined as “political physics” and reviewed some of the fundaments that he considers political practices in western countries follow, compared with more holistic principles. S Heuer presented her work on rank abuse and her conclusions about the value that current western values attribute/deny to people according to their status. M. Yolles closed the morning presentations with his most recent research framework on Knowledge Management, explaining the epistemological differences with more traditional approaches to knowledge management.


A Leonard started the afternoon with a reflection on issues of accountability and risk at the global level. She questioned the validity of non systemic approaches and structures operating in the international, global environment and the risks involved in not having the required tools for managing accountability of main social affairs at that level. R Turke followed then and introduced a conceptual framework, based on cybernetic concepts on interactions and complexity management to support e-governance. The conference was closed with R. Espejo presentation of a recent application of the VSM in the nuclear waste issue, that involved participation from communities and industries in several EU countries, and showed in practice elements of what he coins as “inclusive governance”.


A Moscardini and A Espinosa leaded there a brief overview of Metaphorum previous events and current plans. M Yolles offered to devote a special issue of his journal Organisational Transformation and Social Change, to publish a selection of papers from this event. P Stokes and A Espinosa accepted to coordinate the special issue that will be coming in 2006.


Also M Yolles offered to be the organiser of the next Metaphorum Conference in Liverpool John Moore University in April or May 2006. More news on this next conference will be announced soon.