General Systems Theory: Concept in which every system is a part of a supersystem. The word 'holon' links the Greek 'holos' (compare: holism) with the suffix '-on', often found in the names of particles.

The word was first used by Arthur Koestler in 'The Ghost in the Machine' to describe systems of autonomous parts that communicate, and solve tasks through collaboration. By collaborating, new problem-solving properties emerge through the synergies of the parts of the holonic system. The holon concept has been applied in management of skills within companies - this is part of the reason heterogenous groups of employees have become popular with middle management: synergies between the different skill sets of the members of the group can make the problem-solving ability of the group larger than the sum of its parts.

Sources: Lars Skyttner: General Systems Theory - An Introduction (MacMillan Press 1996) History of 'Holons' (, 20011212-1037GMT)