Feedback – Concept and meanings in various fields

We explain what feedback is and its meanings in different areas. Also, what is positive and negative feedback.

Feedback can occur as a desired or accidental phenomenon.

What is feedback?

It is understood by feedback or feedback (sometimes feedback, a loan from English) a mechanism by which an exit process from a system is directed back to its entry process, thus continuing its operation or creating a loop (loop).

Feedback can be spoken of in numerous contexts and with regard to various systemic approaches, whether in engineering, architecture, economics, biology, administration, and communication sciences, among others. It can occur as a desired or accidental phenomenon, with positive or harmful consequences, depending on your context.

For example, feedback in the context of military operations is key, since it allows the adjustment of their control dynamics. A bomber plane, for example, executes a mission in constant contact with its base, which provides it with the information necessary for success. The aircraft, for its part, returns the information as the mission progresses, updating the information through a loop that will then be supplied again.

Feedback in communication

In communication processes, feedback is given when the sender and receiver momentarily swap places, allowing the first to know in what way (and if) he is being received, and therefore if he should continue with the communication.

A clear example of this is constituted by the small phatic enunciations that we emit when speaking on the phone, which have no meaning as such but indicate to the other person that we are following their speech and they can continue.

Feedback in a system

In general systems theory, feedback consists of the process by which any system (a family, a company, a computer, etc.) collects information regarding its operation: either internal or external processes. in which it affects its surrounding environment.

In both cases, the system you can then adjust, focus or determine your future actions, so that feedback is a form of feedback mechanism. control.

Feedback in the administrative process

In administration, feedback allows the existence of instances of control.

In administration, which is the science that studies the ideal way to control the resources of human systems, feedback allows the existence of control instances: stages of the production process in which a department receives returns regarding its operations from others, or in which it elevates the observations arising from its own operation to the leadership, as a way of reinjecting information into the system itself. So management can make informed decisions.

Positive and negative feedback

We speak of positive and negative feedback, to refer to the reinjection of information to the system that causes, respectively, accumulation or growth effects (positive) or subtraction and decrease (negative) in the input.

This does not refer to the convenience or not of the result of the feedback, but to its effect on the whole system: in this way the tendency of the system in question to equilibrium is determined.