Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The achievement of the goals of General Systems Theory are, in part, dependent on the development and use of a language which will facilitate relevant communication across disciplines so that structural similarities which are hidden by the use of specialists' languages can be examined. This study explores various dimensions of the language associated with GST. The major vocabulary components associated with GST were identified using four criterion. The first was designed to enumerate terms that reflected the dimensional aspects of systems terminology needed to identify systems characteristics which are isomorphic across different disciplines. The second criterion eliminated discipline-bound terms with limited applicability. The third criterion was used to specify sources used in the identification process and the fourth was designed to identify those terms considered to be major. Fifty-one major terms were identified based on data gathered from 400 articles which were randomly selected from the GST literature. Two classification schemes which categorized the major GST vocabulary components were developed. The descriptive scheme attempted to capture the essence of General Systems Theory by classifying the terms into seven categories designed to reflect the dimensions of the field. The computer-based typology used factor analysis to group the terms into nineteen categories. A comparison of the two schemes which provided linkages between the two was developed. Statistical analysis was undertaken to test several hypotheses using two-way analysis of variance. Hypothesis I was designed to test for differences between the disciplines contributing to GST with regard to their mean concept usage level for each major GST vocabulary component. The results indicate that the majority of the terms were being employed at a statistically equal level among the disciplines. Hypothesis II was designed to test for concept usage trends over time. It was found that the mean concept usage level has not changed significantly over time for the majority of the terms tested. Hypothesis III was designed to test differences between type of publication with regard to mean concept usage level for each term. It was determined that the terms are being employed equally in the literature without regard to type of publication.