METHODOLOGY

 


SYSTEMS METHODOLOGY differs from the methodologies of the disciplines in that the methodology of a particular discipline is clearly identified and is to be adhered to, In Systems Inquiry, on the other hand, one selects -- from a wide range of approaches, methods, and tools that best fit -- the TYPE of system, the PURPOSE and NATURE of the Inquiry and the specific problem SITUATION.

Systems Methodology has two domains of Inquiry; (a) the study of methods by which we pursue systems scholarship and produce systems knowledge, and (b) the identification and description , methods, and tools for applying systems theory and systemic thinking in the analysis, design and development of complex systems.

More specifically, this task is twofold:
+ to identify, characterize and classify the system of our interest, the system of issues embedded in our system, other systems that interact with us and the larger system (the environment) that embeds our system. + To select, identify and characterize specific strategies, methods, and tools appropriate to the work with our system. BHB


TOP Perspectives hl

Applied to a given system, each perspective yields insights not attainable with the others. Together, T, 0, and P form what Churchman calls a Singerian inquiring system. "Cross-cuing" and integration of the perspectives must be done by the decision maker. An analogy is the American courtroom, where the jury considers various perspectives (witness testimonies) and even prototype integrations (by the prosecutor and defense attorney), but must undertake its own integration to arrive at a verdict. Furthermore, as any executive knows, science-based "replication" and "validation" are not meaningful concepts in this context.

In Search of General Principles cf

Structures and processes are of many different kinds. We thus end up with a corresponding number of different models. Growth, for example, can be lineal, exponential, asymptotic, logistic, cyclical, etc. These different types should be modelized and clearly distinguished from each other. But, as they may be related, their characteristics should be explained, compared, and put in perspective. As all these features are somehow interrelated, we end up with a network (in itself a "system") of new concepts and models, deeply different from the classical ones, used in "hard sciences", but complementary to these.

Understanding the Nature of System Change fs

In his discussion of general systems theory (GST), the economist K. E. Boulding outlined a strategy for dealing with what he termed phenomena of 'universal significance'. This was: to look over the empirical universe and pick out certain general phenomena which are found in many different disciplines, and to seek to build up general theoretical models relevant to these phenomena. (Boulding, 1956, p. 199)

Arguably, change is just such a phenomenon.

The Li of Wushiren zz

It is first tried to show that these systems approaches are converging into an intention to (1) articulate a systems vision which is built upon a conception of differentiation and multiplicity, (2) move the concept of systems study beyond the domination of technical dimension towards a holistic inquiry of relations in the world, between human and the world, and among human fellows, (3) pursue synergy among various approaches and inquiring systems, (4) emphases human values and relations, and (5) stand on each own cultural tradition while open to 'alien' ones.

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