The ethos of an activity system is in-formed by the ethos of the entity systems it is part of and connected to.
The ethos of an entity in-forms each of its activity systems. For example, my values shape my work life, parenting and nutrition. At the same time, the ethos of the entity system is also shaped by the ethos of its activity systems. For example, I learn a lot from work, the children also educate me and, apparently, I am what I eat.
An activity system is also influenced by the ethos of other entity systems it is connected to. This includes:
Clients or the recipients of the outputs or results of the activity system: For example, work gets customised according to client needs; the education of each child is unique; my body has allergic reactions to specific foods.
Suppliers or the input providers to the activity system: For example, the quality of the supplies affects the products;the inherent talents of the children shape the education approach and my physiology influences my cooking.
Industry / functional contextand governance of the activity system: For example, there are some universal values influencing work functions (e.g. a marketing, HR, IT, production ethos), generic parenting traditions and nutrition information.
The influence of the different types of ethos on an activity system can be illustrated by the analogy of super-string theory. The theory postulates that a “string” (i.e. an energy unit) is attached to a “brane” (i.e. information field) which makes the string “vibrate” and thereby gives rise to the different physical manifestations. Likewise, the behaviour of an activity system is shaped by the interplay of the different ethoses of its stakeholders. It could literally be torn apart by conflicting demands and become dysfunctional.
Different values of an ethos field get activated in different spatial (e.g. functional) contexts and at different times.
relevance for the change manager
Ethos management must embrace the paradox of one organisational ethos and diverse function-specific ethoses.