In this chapter we shall explore some of the ways in which the notion of 'system' has been used within industrial sociology in Britain in research on industrial organisations. Systems approaches certainly have been, and probably still remain, the most common framework for organisational analysis, though their use is often largely implicit. I shall discuss three main examples of analyses of industrial enterprises as 'social systems': the work of the Department of Social Science, University ofLiverpool in the 1950s and early 1960s under the leadership ofW.H. Scott; the writings of ElliottJaques and Wilfred (later Lord) Brown associated with the Glacier Metal Company enquiries from the late 1940s to the 1970s; and the contributions of members of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations since the beginning of the 1950s in developing the notion of a 'socio-technical system'. Each of these groups attempted to use their own case study research in organisations to develop an explicit generally valid understanding of industrial organisations as systems. Their formulations are rather different and indicate something of the range of possibilities within a systems framework. They all made well-respected contributions to the sociology of industry through the reports of their empirical investigations and for that reason alone their theoretical work was not without influence. The 'socio-technical system' concept, however, has been of the greatest significance. In addition to their specific strengths and weaknesses all these approaches are subject to some of the more general criticisms of systems theorising which developed from the 1960s onwards.