General systems theory in its theoretical form has rarely been applied. Political Science lacks high level of theoretical consciousness as well as a programme of systematic abstract analysis. It lacks the basic conceptual and prepositional material. Still some of its concepts have become popular and are used in a wide variety of contexts, such as, stability, feedback, entropy, etc. In practice, it is being used as a form of general orientation or a frame of reference. Such attempts help it to rise above beaten tracks. But it is not the proper use of general systems theory.
This theory can help in developing a set of basic principles applicable to a large variety of political systems. As its scope is broader and higher, its level of abstraction can envelope many disciplines, and accommodate multiple middle and lower range theories. At a time, when a general theory of politics is not available, it can serve as a blueprint for completing that long and arduous programme. It can put complementary qualities of various approaches to a workable integrated pattern for its use to political analysis.
In that pattern, various approaches would have to give up or shed their crudities and redundancies. As it contains a rich storehouse of descriptive and classificatory concepts, it can sort out a large quantity of data and put them under manageable patterns and uniformities.
Some of the concepts, such as stability, equilibrium, pattern-maintenance, etc., have been used in a loose manner. But political scientists have not been very clear about notions like systemic breakdown, decay and other political pathologies. Systems theory has facilitated communication among various disciplines, and it has been possible to borrow a lot from them.
It is more useful for the analysis of macro-systems, providing a complete framework for the classification of large amount of data it comes closer to political phenomena available at local, regional, national, and international levels. Concept of isomorphism helps in making use of our understanding one system to another, and of a subsystem to the system. Thus both micro and macro analyses can supplement each other. However, there is some inherent conservatism in the theory. For some areas, like political power, influence, conflict, etc., this theory does not appear to be very relevant.
It studies control mechanisms of systems, but leaves out the questions of scope, depth, and weight of power. By its nature, it is unable to deal with questions concerning strategy and tactics of employing power, psychology of political behaviour, decision making, goal formation, and alternative sets of policy making.