The viable systems model applied to a smart network: The case of the UK electricity market

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  • Authors:
  • Duncan R. Shaw
  • Bob Snowdon
  • Christopher P. Holland
  • Peter Kawalek
  • Brian Warboys


We investigate the concept of Smart Business Networks by using Beer's Viable System Model (VSM) to analyse how such a network mitigates the affect of emergent, and therefore unforecastable, demands upon the networked businesses. We examine the requirements for network smartness, highlight some significant properties of one Smart Network and use our case analysis and concepts from systems theory to suggest some general properties such as natural stability and distributed capability. We have found that smartness is distributed and shared behavioural process standards can act to stabilise complex systems. This is important because it mitigates emergent behaviour within increasingly complex business networks. The contributions of our article apply both to academics and business practitioners and are in its illustration and investigation of one Smart Business Network including how the smart capability functions at a strategic, business process and technical level; and the use of Beer's VSM to analyse an electricity market.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJournal of Information Technology|J. Inf. Technol.
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004