Professor Stafford Beer 1926 – 2002
Stafford Beer was appointed Honorary Professor of Organisational Transformation at Liverpool Polytechnic in 1989, and today the Collection bearing his name is among the most prized of LJMU's archives.
A miscellany of thousands of books and pamphlets, paintings, models, gramophone records and memorabilia, the Collection gives some insight into the workings of this most unusual of social scientists.
Beer is acknowledged as the founder of management cybernetics, or 'the science of effective organisation’.
He died in August 2002, aged 75, and had authored over 200 publications in his lifetime as well as holding a number of academic posts and managerial positions at every level throughout his career. He was also a published poet and held exhibitions of paintings.
“Beer's writings manifest an integrity and sense of responsibility in his tireless pursuit of justice for all victims of our organisational inanities.”
– David Whittaker, author of Think Before You Think: Social Complexity and Knowledge of Knowing
During his career, Beer was highly sought-after, working with the governments of over 20 countries worldwide.
Salvador Allende, the first Marxist to be democratically elected president in South America, grasped the power of his thinking. Between 1970 and 1973, when Allende was overthrown, Beer worked on a new cybernetics-based control system which was to be applied to the entire social economy of Chile. Although the Pinochet coup prevented the full realisation of the system, Beer later undertook commissions for the presidential offices of Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Cybernetics concepts also challenged Brian Eno, one-time musician with Roxy Music and acclaimed pioneer of ambient and generative music, to think differently about the process of making music. Beer's book Brain of the Future gave him ‘some intellectual grasp of what the future might hold, and what place art might occupy in it’.