The Concept of Holistic, System-Oriented Management

Management teachings and education are characterized by a confusing multiplicity of scientific theories and methods. Most of them stress one aspect of management, and few seem to be related. Managers confront a "jungle" of management ideas.

The St. Gallen school of holistic, for system-oriented management, on which the SGMI Institute of Management St. Gallen is based, cuts through the confusion.

  • The St. Gallen Management model makes sense of management practice by capturing a wide range of management concerns in a clear framework. Holistic means that it captures and orders all the vital aspects of management. The model's wide perspective protects against narrow, one-sided views. The model highlights apparent contradictions between various points of view and allows managers to reconcile the many polarities between management theory and management practice.
  • The systems perspective is a world view. Systems thinking deepens the desire for holistic management theory. A system is nothing more than a whole made up of parts. It spotlights the relationships among the parts and the relation between the system and its context. In the systems view of management, the tension between stability and innovation is especially important. Managers who wish to keep things the way they are typically seek stability, but they also need the dynamism that comes with innovation. According to Schumpeter, the dynamism that comes with radical innovation can come at a price: "creative destruction." Every economic development flows from the process of the creative destruction: the factors of production are again and again arranged by the destruction of old structures so that re-organization can take place. To realize the advantages of dynamism, managers need superior, well thought-out ways of dealing with uncertainty. Paradoxically, in times of ever-accelerating external change, the partially calculable dynamic of transformation is one of the only constants.

Only the Combination of Theory and Practice Leads to Proficiency

The tension between theory and practice is part of the management world. Managers must resolve this tension. Why? Because theory without practice is empty and impracticable, and practice without a theoretical basis is fragile and unreliable. For managers, basic theoretical knowledge is vital, but insufficient. It must be enriched with practical experience. In practice, the characteristics of each case are unique, and abstract theories are insufficient. The way a manager deals with the theory and practice makes the difference (among other qualities) between a good and bad manager. This ability can be developed: the manager must learn to judge situations, how existing knowledge can be brought to practice, and supplemented. Only then is it possible, on the basis of solid knowledge, to find distinctive innovations.

As a business school, building on this concept, SGMI does not aim merely to deliver knowledge. Theory is a springboard, enriched by practical experience. The sum of theory and experience helps participants sharpen their judgment and ability, and develop themselves further from a new, higher platform. Only by combining theory and practice is it possible to create in the fast-changing world, can executive development programs build a long-lasing impact.

The St. Gallen Management Model

What started in the early 1970s has developed into a renowned management approach: the St. Gallen Management Model. Recent economic history shows how valuable it is. This Model of holistic company management, not based on short-term profit maximization, offers pragmatic orientation and implementation support. Naturally, the St. Gallen Management Model isn't static. Several St. Gallen business providers are developing it. SGMI is working at the foremost front, where it helps advance the model further and develop new models that are as much intended to serve practice as to develop theory.


SGMI Management Institute
St. Gallen

Bogenstrasse 7
CH-9000 St. Gallen
Phone: +41 71 223 50 30

Literature about the St. Gallen Management Model:

Hans Ulrich,
Gesammelte Schriften: Die Unternehmung als produktives soziales System

ISBN: 3-258-06291-9

Hans Ulrich,
Gesammelte Schriften: Das St. Galler Management-Modell

ISBN: 3-258-06291-9

Hans Ulrich,
Gesammelte Schriften: Anleitung zum ganzheitlichen Denken und Handeln

ISBN: 3-258-06291-9

Hans Ulrich,
Gesammelte Schriften: Management: Aufsätze 1970-1981

ISBN: 3-258-06291-9

Hans Ulrich,
Gesammelte Schriften: Management: Aufsätze 1981-1998

ISBN: 3-258-06291-9

Studienausgabe Systemorientiertes Management: Das Werk von Hans Ulrich

ISBN: 3-258-06359-1

Knut Bleicher,
Das Konzept integriertes Management

ISBN: 3-593-37634-2

Johannes Rüegg-Stürm,
Das neue St. Galler Management-Modell

ISBN: 3-258-06629-9

Emil Brauchlin, Peter Hauser,
Integriertes Management in der Praxis

ISBN: 3-593-37436-6

Johannes Rüegg-Stürm, Simon Grand,
Das St. Galler Management-Modell

ISBN: 3-258-07956-0

Research Group St. Gallen

The St. Gallen research group is a non-profit association. It advances the St. Gallen management approach, creates and disseminates management knowledge and thus offers companies and institutions a pragmatic orientation and practical assistance in implementation for lasting success.

As founding member, SGMI Institute of Management St. Gallen is on the cutting edge of research. It helps further develop St. Gallen knowledge and helps anchors that knowledge in practice through public seminars, company-specific programs and consulting.

Knowledge Platform

The goal of the SGMI Knowledge Platform: help executives put into practice the knowledge they learn in SGMI management seminars and programs. The platform offers alumni of SGMI seminars and programs access to numerous management tools, SGMI content, useful documents like bibliographies and diploma projects and affordable access to "Management-Wissen aus St. Gallen."

Online access to management and work tools

Access numerous management and work tools free of charge on topics such as strategic management, marketing and sales, finance and accounting from different SGMI events. These are available for your own personal use, to apply in your everyday business.

On the theme of strategy, in addition to the St. Gallen Management Model, a number of useful tools are available on the most important steps in the strategy process.

In marketing and sales, tools for creating marketing strategies, concepts and portfolio positioning are available. General help is also accessible for meeting the challenges of marketing and sales.

In finance and accounting you will find tools like balance sheet analysis, key ratio analysis, cash flow statements, investment calculations, cost analysis, profit and loss statements, ROI-scheme, ROI simulation model, as well as a finance and accounting case with a sample solution.

Exclusive access to "Management Wissen aus St. Gallen"

The tools make the following content available, under special conditions, for your personal use:


Management methods and their relevance – for executives who want to stay up-to-date


With 'New-Skills: Management-Methoden in Abonnement', a subscription service, you learn new management methods, how to put them in practice and the benefits you gain.

Target Group:

Executives and practitioners who are interested in ongoing learning and wish to question their own management effectiveness.


Management knowledge becomes obsolete vey quickly. New-Skills gives you the latest knowledge – so you stay up-to-date.
Highly compressed: You learn quickly about the themes and trends that effect the economy. And the scientific deliberations behind them.
From St. Gallen: the authors of New-Skills are professors, consultants, lecturers and practitioners with top-class knowledge.


Learning with St. Gallen case studies while still on the job – active, practice-oriented management development.


ManagementCases is executive development with St. Gallen case studies, by subscription. Topics include Strategic Management, Marketing, Finance and Managing People/Leadership. The typical learning module includes case studies, text, recommended reading, tools and sample solutions to the case studies.

Target group:

Executives, specialists and high-potentials who want to develop their management skills and learn the latest management knowledge and practice – while still on the job.


Practice-oriented management development – without leaving work. The latest management knowledge on Strategy, Marketing, Finance and Leadership.
Work through case studies and learn from sample solutions – an optimal way to learn.


Management knowledge – for executives who are short on time.


The St.GallenLetter brings you useful practical management knowledge – compact and distilled.
The St. GallenLetter shows you what programs professional managers are launching, how they do it and what they achieve.

Target group:

Executives and practitioners who are short on time but need to stay up-do-date and are looking for management knowledge in a compact, practical form.


Management knowledge from St. Gallen – reduced to less than 10 pages.
Time-saving overview of the management themes that matter.
An indispensible orientation for launching your own personal programs for successful leadership performance.


Attractive powerpoint presentations on current management themes – distilled knowledge in an easy-to-visualize form.

Modules offer executives an instrument with which they can both bring management knowledge into their own companies, and also give their high-potential managers the chance to prove themselves in practice.

Only through such challenges can young talents be fostered, their abilities brought to the fore.

The modular powerpoint presentations are created by experienced faculty and consultants with the goal of delivering the latest content in a structure that makes sense to busy executives.

MODULS powerpoint presentations develop your employees in a goal-oriented way, without your making a big effort to coordinate or manage their learning.

Access to the projects and diploma papers of SGMI diploma graduates

A summarizing list provides you with a choice of themes from projects and diploma papers – all completed at SGMI Management Institute St. Gallen. The list is organized along the following management topics: General Management, Marketing, Sales, Finance / Controlling, Product Management, Leadership und International Management. The copyright for each piece of work lies with the original author. With express author permission, you can be granted access to a specific work. Upon request, our administration ( can provide you with the lists of your request.

Access to topic-specific bibliographies and lists of management literature

Current bibliographies, organized by management subject can be received by contacting our administration ( Please let us know the management subject you are interest in (Strategic Management, Marketing & Sales, Finance & Controlling, Leadership & HR).

How to contact us

+41 71 223 50 30

SGMI Management Institut St. Gallen
Bogenstrasse 7
CH-9000 St. Gallen

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