The modern environment of the Russian universities could be defined as very turbulent and challenging. So, choosing a correct strategy of behavior in this environment, as well as creating the corresponding internal atmosphere, is very important for universities in these conditions. Organizational cybernetics, or VSM (Valuable System Model), pioneered by S. Beer, is one of the instruments to analyze the organization’s effectiveness and to search for the ways of increasing effectiveness. Connecting the general cybernetic principles with the achievements of the neurophysiology, S. Beer proposed a management model, wherein the organization is seen like a brain-ruled human organism. The model includes five interconnected systems of different levels. It has been successfully applied for analyzing the effectiveness of various economic systems – from the whole state to small business enterprises. This paper demonstrates the first attempt of applying VSM for studying the Russian universities’ performance. There are distinguished the peculiarities of each of the five Beer’s systems within the university as compared to the similar systems in business organizations, each system operation at the university being analyzed. The author demonstrates the typical mistakes of the system operation and gives some advices on these mistakes elimination. The main conclusions drawn are as follows: 1) the methods of management prevailing at business organization can find rather limited application at the universities; 2) Russian universities are lacking strategic goals formulated by superior system; 3) another need of the universities is creation of organizational culture based on trust and respect. Finally, there are given some practical recommendations on advancing the Russian universities.

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