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Downward Causation

The Tyranny of 'Efficiencyism'

Hanns-Jürgen Hodann
'Efficiencyism’  can be described as a blind belief in the effectiveness of efficiency measures without taking into account circumstances and the wider context.   The graph on the left shows how the frequent use of the term 'efficiency' at the level of local interactons can lead to the emergence of  'efficiencyism' through upward causation, denoted by the arrows pointing upwards.  However, there is also downward causation from the global level depicted by the red arrows which can increase the blind application of efficiency measures at the local level. In other words, efficiency for the sake of efficiency becomes a dominant idea.  The tyrannical influence of 'eficiencyism' affects all of us to varying degrees and unfortunately can often have very negative side effects, such as an increase in unemployment, social injustice and even increase inequality.  Of  course, well thought out efficiency improvements can also bring great  benefits.   I recommend reading an excellent article by Dr. Charles Chandler, who explains the term 'efficiencyism' with some excellent examples and also points to some  of its undesirable effects.

Social Systems SystemsThinking Downward Causation Emergence Efficiency Economy

  • 3 years 10 months ago