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Stafford Beer: The Father of Management Cybernetics

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Norbert Wiener once told Stafford that if he was the father of cybernetics, then Stafford was the father of management cybernetics. Stafford had written to Wiener after reading Cybernetics to say I think I am a cybernetician. Correspondence, invitations to conferences, meetings and friendships followed. Stafford was welcomed by many of the early pioneers and formed special bonds with his mentors, Warren McCulloch, Ross Ashby and Norbert Wiener. These bonds were important to him both for the opportunities for friendship and learning, and for the validation they gave a young man working in the British steel industry which was by no means unanimous in its support of innovation and progressive practices. Stafford himself was always eager to support other innovators, sponsoring George Spencer-Brown while he wrote Laws of Form, writing a glowing preface for Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela's Autopoeisis and Cognition and writing many reviews of new books in the field. In later years, he tried to follow in his mentors' footsteps, encouraging young people as best he could with no institutional base. Obituary written by Allenna Leonard with assistance from Roger Harnden. Allenna was Stafford's close partner who joyfully shared both his life and his work for many years. Stafford Beer was born on September 25, 1926. He died on August 23, 2002, at the age of 75.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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