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Reflections on critical systems thinking and the management of change in rule‐bound systems

John Clayton (University of Hull, Hull, UK)
Wendy J. Gregory (University of Hull, Hull, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 1 April 2000



Looks at a specific variant of systems thinking, called critical systems thinking, which is an approach that was developed in the UK during the 1980s. In particular, consideration is given to “rule‐bound” systems – scenarios where the possibilities for change have been found to be problematic. The characteristics of such situations will initially be set out, focusing on the power relations that appear to pervade such situations. A prison‐based change management initiative is used to show how critical systems thinking can be employed, and provide some reflections on the process of change management and the outcomes achieved. These reflections point to some difficulties experienced that emerged from the rule‐bound nature of the problem situation and ways in which such difficulties might be addressed in similar situations in the future are suggested. Insights for both private and public sector organizations are drawn throughout the paper.



Clayton, J. and Gregory, W.J. (2000), "Reflections on critical systems thinking and the management of change in rule‐bound systems", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 140-161.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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