CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Systemic environmental decision making: designing learning systems
Ray Ison, Chris Blackmore, Kevin Collins and Pam Furniss
Keywords Cybernetics, Research, Learning, Decision making
Purpose–This paper, written for a special issue of Kybernetes devoted to cybernetics and design, aims to focus on case studies that are both informed by cybernetic and systems thinking and constitute a form of second-order design praxis.
Design/methodology/approach–The case studies exemplify reflective practice as well as reporting outcomes, in terms of new understandings, from an action research process.
Findings–The paper describes what was involved in course design, from a cybernetic perspective, to effect systemic environmental decision making as well as developing and enacting a model for doing systemic inquiry (SI), which enabled situation-improving actions to be realised in a complex, organisational setting. The paper lays out the theoretical and ethical case for understanding first- and second-order designing as a duality rather than a dualism.
Research limitations/implications–There is a danger that readers from an alternative epistemological position will judge the paper in terms of knowledge claims relevant only to their own epistemological position.
Practical implications–The main outcomes suggested by this paper concern the possibility of transforming the current mainstream identity of educators, project managers and researchers to a position that offers more choices through both epistemological awareness (and pluralism) and the design of learning systems, including SI, as second-order devices.
Originality/value–The case studies are based on both novel settings and theories in action; the concept of the learning systems as both a design and systemic practice as well as an epistemological device is novel. The paper is potentially of relevance to any practitioner wishing to use systems or cybernetic thinking. It is likely to be of particular relevance to education policy makers and public sector governance.