A centralized system is one in which one element or subsystem plays a major or dominant role in the operation of the system. A small change in this subsystem will then be reflected throughout the system, causing considerable change. Progressive centralization is the process whereby one such part of the system emerges as a central and controlling agency. Progressive centralization is especially important in the biological realm where it is associated with progressive individualization (in that an individual can be defined as a centralized system which grows, through progressive centralization, more and more unified and indivisible).
At the higher levels of an organization, centralization is essential to maintain a common pattern of accepted purposes, to coordinate many activities that may otherwise serve to defeat each other, and to provide a general framework for decentralized action. It is needed to prevent or counteract external efforts to weaken or destroy the organization through divisive action, and is needed to deal with external controllers, who may demand it in order to see that control is effective. It should be noted also that a highly centralized system may have several dominant centers. This organization may have redundancy features in order to provide back-up for contingencies. Thus there are two lungs in the human pulmonary system, for example, and the human brain has some redundancy features among its left-right hemisphere divisions, and among the limbic and neo-cortex portions [etc]. Finally, centralization need not be defined spatially at all, [ie] by where one or a few dominant sub-systems or elements are located. A truly centralized system may be one with a central logic.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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