Abstract The traditional systems model of the organization as a machine, performing some well defined function, has in the past often been employed to guide the process of information system design. This model, as is well known, has been challenged in organization theory by conceptions of the organization as an organism a culture and a coercive system (amongst others). This may appear to leave specialists in information management short of theoretical support for their activities. In this paper it is argued that there are, in fact, a variety of systems strategies available for supporting information management in organizations even when these are not conceived of as being machines. Information systems specialists can find in these strategies both a means of accessing the wider debates in organization theory and specific guidance of direct relevance to their practical activities. The systems approach, broadly defined remains therefore the best source of theoretical support for the process of information management.