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From Ancient Greek συνεργία (sunergía, cooperation), from σύν (sún, with, together) + ἔργον (érgon, work).



synergy (plural synergies)

  1. (systems theory) A synonym of binding energy.
    • Depending on the initial condition of the system (initial alphabet and number of elements) the co-evolution of nested local and global hierarchies continues until the system reaches a maximum value of complexity. At least for nuclear systems a quantitative variable called "complexity" can be defined, which increases in an irreversible manner during stellar evolution (Winiwarter, 1983). This variable C is composed of an informational measure I describing the variety of the computed formulas and an energetic measure R describing the relative binding energy or "synergy" permitting the coherence of the system.[1]
    • In short, synergy is the consequence of the energy expended in creating order. It is locked up in the viable system created, be it an organism or a social system. It is at the level of the system. It is not discernible at the level of the system. It is not discernible at the level of the system's components. Whenever the system is dismembered to examine its components, this binding energy dissipates. An ordered library offers systemic possibilities, such as rapid search, selection, and aggregation, that cannot be explained by looking at the books themselves. These possibilities only exist because of the investment made in defining and creating interrelations between the books, their physical arrangement and the catalogues.[2]
  2. (physiology) The cooperation of two or more nerves, muscles, organs, etc.
    the digestive synergy
  3. (pharmacology) The combined action of two or more drugs where the effects are stronger than their mere sum.
  4. Benefits resulting from combining two different groups, people, objects or processes.



  • asynergy (absence of synergy)
  • antisynergy

Related terms[edit]


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Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Dillon, John Andrew (Society for General Systems Research). Proceedings of the International Conference on Mental Images, Values, & Reality. Vol. 1, Intersystems Publications, 1986, p. D-7
  2. ^ Spender, J.-C. Organizational Knowledge, Collective Practice and Penrose Rents. In Michael H. Zack (ed.), Knowledge and Strategy, Routledge, 2009, p. 125