Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop. The system can then be said to feed back into itself. The notion of cause-and-effect has to be handled carefully when applied to feedback systems:
Simple causal reasoning about a feedback system is difficult because the first system influences the second and second system influences the first, leading to a circular argument. This makes reasoning based upon cause and effect tricky, and it is necessary to analyze the system as a whole.
Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is the natural efficacy that connects one process (the cause) with another process or state (the effect), where the first is partly responsible for the second, and the second is partly dependent on the first. In general, a process has many causes, which are said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of, or causal factor for, many other effects, which all lie in its future.
Self-regulation occurs in both the organization and its environment and is consequently of major importance: Self-regulation generates a degree of stability but if intervention is undertaken either in an organization or by an organization in its environment stability may be disturbed. If the causality (circular casual chains) have not been adequate understood then the intervention may produce unmanageable instability or pushing the system to a new regime due to crossing the resilience threshold.
The following order feedbacks are possible:
Simplest form of feedback where two elements continuously interact with each other such that the output of one determines the next action of the other:
- Negative or goal seeking behavior, the system will resist disturbances that take it away from its goal (equilibrium within basin of attraction). This is to say that the reaction of the one element is to inhibit the change in the other or vice versa.
- They are first order system that is the goal of the system determined externally to it
- Opposite to negative feedback there is positive feedback whereby deviation by one element will be amplified rather than reduce by action of another.
A second order feedback system is capable of choosing between a variety of responses to environment changes in order to achieve its goals.
A third order system is still more sophisticated in that it is capable of changing goal state itself in response to feedback process determining the goal internally as opposed first and second order systems.
Ultimately systems that include feedback loops are capable of demonstrating exceedingly complex behavior and large changes in that behavior may be brought about by small changes in the internal relationship.