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A strategic approach to making sense of the “wicked” problem of ERM

Julie McLeod (School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Sue Childs (School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Article publication date: 19 July 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an approach to viewing the “wicked” problem of electronic records management (ERM), using the Cynefin framework, a sense‐making tool. It re‐conceptualises the ERM challenge by understanding the nature of the people issues. This supports decision making about the most appropriate tactics to adopt to effect positive change.

Design/methodology/approach

Cynefin was used to synthesise qualitative data from an empirical research project that investigated strategies and tactics for improving ERM.

Findings

ERM may be thought of as a dynamic, complex challenge but, viewed through the Cynefin framework, many issues are not complex; they are simple or complicated and can be addressed using best or good practice. The truly complex issues need a different approach, described as emergent practice. Cynefin provides a different lens through which to view, make sense of and re‐perceive the ERM challenge and offers a strategic approach to accelerating change.

Research limitations/implications

Since Cynefin has been applied to one data set, the findings are transferrable not generalisable. They, and/or the approach, can be used to further test the propositions.

Practical implications

The resultant ERM framework provides a practical example for information and records managers to exploit or use as a starting point to explore the situation in particular organisational contexts. It could also be used in other practical, teaching and/or research‐related records contexts.

Originality/value

This paper provides a new strategic approach to addressing the wicked problem of ERM, which is applicable for any organisational context.

Keywords

Citation

McLeod, J. and Childs, S. (2013), "A strategic approach to making sense of the “wicked” problem of ERM", Records Management Journal, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 104-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/RMJ-04-2013-0009

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited