The Systems approach is the study of inter-related variables forming one system, a unit, a whole which is composed of many facts, a set of elements standing in interaction.

This approach assumes that the system consists of discernible, regular and internally consistent patterns, each interacting with another, and giving, on the whole, the picture of a self-regulating order. It is, thus, the study of a set of interactions occurring within and yet analytically distinct from, the larger system. What the systems theory presumes include:

(i) The existence of a whole on its own merit;

(ii) The whole consisting of parts;


(iii) The whole existing apart from the other wholes;

(iv) Each whole influencing the other and in turn, being influenced itself;

(v) The parts of the whole are not only inter-related, but they interact with one another and in the process creating a self-evolving work;

(vi) The parts relate themselves into a patterned relationship, while the whole exists, and keeps existing.


The emphasis of the systems theory is on the articulation of the system and of its components and the behaviors by means of which it is able to maintain itself over time.

Difference between General Systems and Systems Approaches:

It is usually the practice to confuse the system approach with the general systems theory. The systems analysis may have sprung from the general systems theory, but the two are different in many respects.

To identify the systems theory with the general systems theory amounts to committing the philosophical error of the first order. While the general systems theory gives the impression of a system as one which is as integrated as the parts of the human body together, the systems theory does recognize the separate existence of parts. What it means is that the general systems theory advocates organized unity of the system whereas the systems theory speaks of unity in diversity.


That is one reason that the general systems theory has been rarely applied to the analysis of potential and social phenomena. The systems theory has been successfully applied to the political phenomenon. David Easton, for example, has applied the systems theory to politics. Professor Kaplan has brought out the distinction between the general systems theory and the systems theory.

He says, “Systems theory is not a general theory of all systems. Although general systems theory does attempt to distinguish different types of systems and to establish a framework within which similarities between systems can be recognized despite differences of subject matter, different kinds of systems require different theories for explanatory purposes.

Systems theory not only represents a step away from the general theory approach but also offers an explanation for why such efforts are likely to fail. Thus the correct application of systems theory to politics would involve a move away from general theory toward comparative theory.”

Furthermore, it has not been possible to make use of the concepts of general systems theory in social sciences such as political science while the systems theory has been able to provide concepts (such as input-output, stability, equilibrium, feedback) which have been well accepted by the empirical political scientists.