«Discuss on Connotation and Characteristics of Integration ① ① ① ① YU Jian, LI Xuewei School of Economics and Management Beijing Jiaotong ...»
Discuss on Connotation and Characteristics of Integration
YU Jian, LI Xuewei
School of Economics and Management Beijing Jiaotong University, P. R. China, 100044
Abstract: Research on integration, which is a brand-new theory based on system theory, is still at a
beginning stage. Integration means a process in which it can achieve specific objectives. Integration
subjects search integration units (elements) from inside and outside of an integrated body, reconstruct
and optimize them creatively according to a certain way (relations) to mold a new system (integrated body), or improve the effect of the original system. It includes three characteristics which are catastrophe, open and short term. However, there are some uncertainties on connotation and characteristics of integration in China, so this paper is committed to clarifying the connotation and characteristics of integration.
Key words: integration; connotation; characteristics
1. Introduction At present, the research on integration in China has been increasingly hot in these fields, for example, integration of the computer (technology and manufacturing) and integration of management information system, logistics integration and information integration, information resources integration of an enterprise and integration of our country’s strategic resources. “Integration” is greatly changing our life, production and management.
With the extensive application of integration in social production and human life, integration has been endowed with extremely rich meaning, at the same time, the term of integration has the trend of being abused, and some people even consider fast food a kind of integration. When they use the term of integration, there is a common characteristic that they are restricted to the function expected or describing the technology which realizing the function.
However, because of the lack of accurate definition of essence of integration, it is always difficult to understand the exact meaning of integration. A scientific system of a theory must have a scientific and integral concept. If the concept of integration is not clear, it will lead to the confusion of studying integration and incompactness of methodology. So we have the necessarity to clarify the connotation of “integration”.
2. Connotation of Integration At present, although the term of integration has been more and more frequently cited in numerous scientific literatures, and many scholars have explored the connotation of “integration” deeply from different angles. However, the definition of the essence of integration is not uniform, and especially from the perspective of management science, it is a more benevolent view, the wise seeing wisdom.
In English, integration, derived from the Latin prefix and root respectively “in” (internal) and “tangere” (to touch), means “to synthesize, mix, unify and act as a whole”, and the term of integration emphasizes the internal (inside) contact. The basic connotation of integration is “assembly” in Modern Chinese Dictionary. In the idea of China’s well-known “Metasynthesis”, integration is defined that good factors of things are put together; It can promote and achieve an optimal effect as a whole. The explanations above are just the general senses of the description of the phenomenon or the result of integration and do not reveal the essence of integration.
As a term that was earlier interpreted and applied, integration is in the computer field. In 1973, Dr.
Joseph Harrington put forward the concept of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) whose core ① Yu Jian (1979- ), PhD. Student, studying in Beijing Jiaotong University, major: management science.
Li Xuewei (1962- ), Dr., mentor, Vice President of Beijing Jiaotong University, Research Direction: management science lies in integration, that is, all functional areas and business processes in an enterprise should be integrated into an organic whole from the functions and information, and make the enterprise respond quickly to changes in the market in order to achieve the overall efficiency optimization of the enterprise.
Although the concept has clear connotation and purpose, it is limited in the field of manufacture or the point of integration of “isolated islands of automation”. As a result, the connotation that they described lacks generalization, and the explanation to the nature of integration is not comprehensive enough.
These problems also exist in the definition of enterprise integration when some subsequent scholars define it.
In the field of computer, systems integration refers to a process that a computer enterprise combines different components (hardware and software) from various manufacturers to produce a complete solution according to the users’ requirements. It is clear that the connotation of integration here is mainly in the area of technology rather than in a larger or all-round area. What’s more, due to the lack of concerns to integration itself, the connotation and characteristics of integration have not been fully or effectively described.
Academician Dai Ruwei from Chinese Academy of Sciences and others hold that integration means synthesizing the very complex aspects of things which is Metasynthesis. Although the description is based on thought of a comprehensive integration, and it defines the connotation of integration in the light of complex things (system), yet the explanation is not very clear, and it does not completely break through limitations of the traditional concept of “Metasynthesis”.
Professor Gong Xinqiao from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and others hold that integration is referred to a process that some independent units are put together or combined overall to become a whole. Similarly, Professor Liu Xiaoqiang from Tsinghua University pointed out that the nature of integration is a process that some things are collected together to constitute a whole. These interpretations highlighted the targets, process and results of integration, but is not defined very clearly.
For example, obviously, it is not enough precise that “a whole” is used to describe the purpose (or results) of integration, and it does not give prominence to the characteristics of integration by using merely “plus”, “combination” and “concentration” to describe the activities of integration.
Professor Li Baoshan from Renmin University of China and others hold that integration refers to, from point of view of management, a kind of creative process of fusion, that is, the process of the combination of the elements is injected with creative thinking. The description clearly stated and emphasized that the integration is the process of pursuing optimization initiatively rather than focus on general “concentration” and “cluster”. However, Li Biqiang and Hai Feng form Wuhan University of Technology pointed out from the aspects of targets and results of integration that integration is a process that two or more units (elements, system) of integration are gathered to be an organic system as a whole.
Professor Huang Jie from Wuhan University of Technology holds that connotation of integration can be summarized as : integration means a process in which integration subjects optimize integration units (elements) creatively, structure an organic system as a whole according to a certain integration pattern (relations) in order to achieve specific objectives, improve the body’s overall performance largely, adapt to the changes of environment, and achieve specific functional goals more effectively.
According to the activities of integration in the practice of human society, deep study of the phenomenon of integration from many scholars, and the summary of the above comprehension and description of integration from different angles, I hold that integration means a process in which integration subjects search integration units (elements) from inside and outside of integrated body, reconstruct and optimize them creatively according to a certain way (relations) to mold a new system (integrated body) in order to achieve specific objectives, or enhance results of the original system. This
definition has the following meanings:
(1) Subjects of integration are men. This shows that integration is social practice that human understand and transform the nature; and it is a conscious and selective act of mankind, and a conscious act that subjects of integration initiatively take to achieve some goal(s). Such phenomena as ecological communities of botany, areas with high concentrations of animals, oil, natural gas and other mineral resources, they are the results of organic conformities of elements, but the formation process and the results have a certain degree of spontaneity and chance. However, integration is opposite to that, and it has some obvious purpose(s) and initiative(s), such as strategic alliance.
(2) Creativity. The process of integration is a kind of activities that the creative thinking is fused into from the definition of the connotation of integration. Integration is aimed to break through the existing framework of ideas, try to search for elements (units), reorganize and optimize them, then shape a new system——integrated body according to some new method(s) and relationship(s). The process of searching, reconstructing and optimizing according to a certain way (relationship) needs creative thinking. Only such creative thinking can produce integrated body. Therefore, the element of creative thinking is the core of integration, and the process of integration is one of continuously rallying creative thinking, some examples such as the invention of the computer and CNC (computer numerical control) machine tools (integrated from computer technology and machinery technology).
(3) Catastrophe of the effects. In terms of the definition of integration, integration can be a new body, the “new” refers to a creation and invention instead of improvements, such as invention of computers, television sets and others, namely, to construct a completely new system by integrating completely decentralized and irrelevant elements (units) which is exactly neglected in domestic research; integration is also a kind of improvement of the original system, which has similar effects in the existing original system, but effects can be greatly improved through integration, which is actually an improvement. The only difference is that the effect of this improvement is resulted from a significant upgrade of effects.
The effects refer to ones on function, time and scale. By the process of integration, new functions can be produced, such as inventions are created, the course of time can be significantly shortened such as an instant Camera, and the size of the original system can be greatly reduced such as integrated computer chips. These Catastrophes of effects in practice speed up the economic and social progress, at the same time, save more time and cost.
(4) Necessarity of carrier. Integration has carriers. At present, integrations on function, process, logistics, manufacturing, technology, management, resources, and information and so on are put forward, but these divisions are not clear. I believe all integrations have carriers, and the essence of integration is based on the integration of carriers (integration elements or units), so as to realize the catastrophe of effects. The integrations above are actually analyzed from these aspects of the results of integration (function integration), or the field or industry (Integrated Logistics), or the process (manufacturing integration, process integration), or the perspective of the types of resources to (integration of technology, resource integration, information integration), or comprehensive integration (Integrated Management). All of these are based on the integration of carriers, which are generally referred to technology, institution, raw materials and knowledge and they are elements for integration that constitute a real integration (body).