The nature of hierarchy suggests a few unique problems.

  • Breakdowns for mmost naturally along the subsystems’ boundaries.
  • Suboptimization occurs when a subsystem’s goals dominate those of the overarching system.
  • Overcontrolling systems will cause dysfunctions in subsystems.


  1. Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright, Thinking in Systems: A Primer (White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Pub, 2008). (See notes.)