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Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Martin Reynolds

Three levels of learning developed by Gregory Bateson in the tradition of second-order cybernetics have in-part been translated in terms of double-loop and triple-loop…

Abstract

Purpose

Three levels of learning developed by Gregory Bateson in the tradition of second-order cybernetics have in-part been translated in terms of double-loop and triple-loop learning (TLL), particularly in the tradition of systems thinking. Learning III and TLL have gained less popularity since they deal with less tangible issues regarding virtues of wisdom and justice, respectively. The purpose of this paper is to provide a learning device – the systems thinking in practice (STiP) heuristic – which helps to retrieve the cybernetic concern for wisdom in association with an often forgotten systems concern for real-world power relations.

Design/methodology/approach

Using “conversation” as a metaphor the heuristic is introduced based on three orders of conversation. Drawing on ideas of systemic triangulation, another heuristic device – the systemic triangulator – is used to surface issues of power in the three orders of conversation. Some manifestations in using the STiP heuristic for supporting postgraduate systems learning are demonstrated.

Findings

Some key complementarities between conventionally opaque cybernetic issues of wisdom and systems issues of power are revealed, and used proactively to explore more effective coaching of STiP.

Research limitations/implications

Cybernetics and systems thinking may benefit from being grounded more in understanding, engaging with, and transforming social realities. The heuristics provide practical experiential and meaningful learning through conversation, and more social premium for the study of cybernetics and systems thinking.

Originality/value

The heuristics – STiP, and the systemic triangulator – provides an innovative cyber-systemic space for learning and action.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 16 November 2010

Aelita Skaržauskienė

The paper aims to analyse new management practices for addressing complexity, uncertainty and changes of today's business landscape. In this context it is critical to

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to analyse new management practices for addressing complexity, uncertainty and changes of today's business landscape. In this context it is critical to understand the role of intellectual capital and particularly what are the key competencies to be developed in order to deal with the fluidity of business. Effective decision making and learning in a world of growing dynamic complexity requires leaders to become systems thinkers – to develop tools to understand the structures of complex systems. The paper aims to clarify the relationship between systems thinking and organization performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodology of systems thinking is inseparable from the philosophy of systems thinking, thus, the first part of the paper presents the common theory of systems and the systems approach to the organization. The paper follows a quantitative research approach. Firstly, exploratory factor analysis was employed to assess dimensionality of scales. Secondly, relationships between variables were explored using Spearman's correlation. Thirdly, multiple linear regression was run to test the hypothesized model of relationships. Finally, one‐way ANOVA was employed to test the influence of intelligence competence level on mean of organization performance.

Findings

Based on the analysis and synthesis of the scientific literature a conceptual model of the relationship between cognitive intelligence competencies (such as systems thinking) and organization performance was developed. The theoretical model was supported by empirical evidence. Correlational and regression analyses revealed that systems thinking was associated with higher organization performance.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the chosen research approach, the research results may lack generalizability. The sample of this research was limited only to national level therefore it is not possible to compare results across different countries. In order to generalize the research findings, further research should include more companies from different industries. Secondly, the traditional self assessment method has been used for evaluation of competencies in this paper, but the results could be supplemented by adding 360‐degree feedback or multisource assessment results.

Practical implications

A systems thinking approach allows the realization of various interrelations and working schemes in the organization and helps to identify regularities of the organizational development. The application of systems thinking principles cannot guarantee success but may be a useful means or a permanent form of activity when solving conceptual problems.

Originality/value

Rich insight to the systems thinking approach was provided at the conceptual level and meaning of systems thinking was developed. The paper discloses the effects of systems thinking on organization performance and includes implications for the development of systems thinking and other leadership competencies.

Details

Measuring Business Excellence, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1368-3047

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Article
Publication date: 9 October 2017

William F. Heinrich

The purpose of this paper is to explore the enacted mental models, the types of thinking and action, of assessment held by faculty and staff in higher education.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the enacted mental models, the types of thinking and action, of assessment held by faculty and staff in higher education.

Design/methodology/approach

This research approaches the question: in what ways are “learning outcomes assessment” understood (thinking) as part of a system and assessed in the individual’s work (practice)?” Interviews and concept maps were used to identify influences, descriptions of actions, and connections to environments for 12 participants, known to have engaged in learning outcomes assessment.

Findings

By connecting individual perspectives to broader organizational understanding, a goal of this research was to identify and analyze how educators understand and practice learning outcomes assessment in higher education. Influences on assessment presented in the literature are confirmed and several behavioral types are defined and categorized.

Research limitations/implications

The findings focus attention on the ways individuals act on influences in systems of higher education. The findings yield opportunities for new ways to utilize assessment knowledge. The study is small and has implications for similar type institutions.

Practical implications

Faculty and staff can use these findings to create training and development protocols and/or adjust their own practices of assessment. Assessment professionals can apply findings to consulting on an array of assessment projects and with staff who have varying skill levels.

Social implications

The ways in which assessment is practiced is deeply influenced by training but is also shaped heavily by current environments and accountability structures. Policies and practices related to such environments can make a difference in preparing for scaled-up assessment practices and projects.

Originality/value

This research offers insight into possible archetypes of assessment behaviors and presents applied influences on assessment.

Details

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-7003

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Article
Publication date: 14 September 2010

Tomas Palaima and Aelita Skaržauskienė

Effective decision making and learning in a world of growing dynamic complexity requires leaders to become systems thinkers – to develop tools to understand the structures…

Abstract

Purpose

Effective decision making and learning in a world of growing dynamic complexity requires leaders to become systems thinkers – to develop tools to understand the structures of complex systems. The paper aims to clarify the relationship between systems thinking and leadership performance. The relevance of systems thinking as a competence was disclosed in the context of leadership in the complex world.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper followed a quantitative research approach. First, exploratory factor analysis was employed to assess dimensionality of scales. Second, relationships between variables were explored using Spearman's correlation. Third, multiple linear regression was run to test the hypothesized model of relationships. The total sample of 201 consists of subsamples in two industries: retail trade (103 respondents) and manufacturing (98 respondents).

Findings

Based on the analysis and synthesis of the scientific literature, a conceptual model of relationship between intelligence competencies (such as systems thinking) and leadership performance is developed. The theoretical model is supported by empirical evidence from the two industries perspectives: the paper compares the impact of systems thinking on leadership performance in manufacturing and retail trade enterprises. Correlational and regression analyses revealed that systems thinking was associated with higher leadership performance.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the chosen research approach, the research results may lack generalizability. First, the model was tested empirically only in two industries: in retail trade and in manufacturing. Second, the sample of this research was limited only to national level, therefore there is no possibility to compare results across different countries. In order to generalize the research findings, further research should include more companies from different industries.

Practical implications

The paper discloses the benefits of systems thinking in organization and includes implications for the development of systems thinking and other leadership competencies.

Originality/value

This paper establishes a link between systems thinking and leadership performance. Theoretical insights that systems thinking is most important dealing with conceptual strategic problems of an organization were confirmed empirically.

Details

Baltic Journal of Management, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5265

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2015

Ray Ison and Sandro Luis Schlindwein

The governance of the relationship between humans and the biophysical world has been based on a paradigm characterized by dualistic thinking and scientism. This has led to…

Abstract

Purpose

The governance of the relationship between humans and the biophysical world has been based on a paradigm characterized by dualistic thinking and scientism. This has led to the Anthropocene. The purpose of this paper is to reframe human-biosphere governance in terms of “cyber-systemics”, a neologism that is useful, the authors argue, not only for breaking out of this dualistic paradigm in human-environmental governance but also of the dualism associated with the use of systems and cybernetics.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper the authors draw on their own research praxis to exemplify how the intellectual lineages of cybernetics and systems have been mutually influencing their doings, and how new forms of governance practices that explore different framing choices might contribute to building innovative governance approaches attuned to the problematique of the Anthropocene, for instance through institutional designs for cyber-systemic governance.

Findings

The growing popularity of the Anthropocene as a particular framing for the circumstances, if it is to transformative and thus relevant demands informed critique if it is to help change the trajectory of human-life on earth. The authors offer arguments and a rationale for adopting a cyber-systemic perspective as a means to avoid the dangers in pursuing the current trajectory of our relationship with the biophysical world as, for example, climate change. The essay frames an invitation for a systemic inquiry into forms of governance more suited to the contemporary circumstances of humans in their relationships with the biophysical world.

Research limitations/implications

The research essay challenges many taken-for-granted epistemological assumptions within the cybernetics and systems intellectual communities. A case for radical change is mounted; the means to effect this change, other than through changes in discourse remain unclear though it is apparent that changes to praxis and institutional forms and arrangements will be central.

Practical implications

Cyber-systemic capabilities need to be developed; this requires investment and new institutions that are conducive to cyber-systemic understandings and praxis.

Originality/value

Understanding the global environmental crisis as an emergent outcome of current commitments to dualistic governance choices demands a reframing of much of what humans have done, re-investment in cyber-systemics offers a moral and practical response.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 44 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2000

Mark W. McElroy

Chronicles the unfolding convergence of thinking and practice behind knowledge management, organizational learning and complexity theory. Of particular interest are the…

Abstract

Chronicles the unfolding convergence of thinking and practice behind knowledge management, organizational learning and complexity theory. Of particular interest are the roles that knowledge management and complexity theory play in this impending consilience of ideas. On the one hand, knowledge management is anxious to rid itself of its overly technology‐centric reputation in favor of promoting the role it can play in furthering organizational learning. On the other, complexity theory, a confident solution in search of unorthodox problems, has discovered its own true place in the world, an explanation for the means by which living systems engage in adaptive learning – the seminal source of social cognition in living systems.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 27 May 2021

Sue Noy, Teresa Capetola and Rebecca Patrick

Education for Sustainability in Higher Education (ESHE) sits within and across disciplinary settings that share the need for a framework that provides a basis for…

Abstract

Purpose

Education for Sustainability in Higher Education (ESHE) sits within and across disciplinary settings that share the need for a framework that provides a basis for pedagogy, assessment and learning outcomes (Kalsoom, 2019). ESHE strives to create transformative learning spaces that help students gain the knowledge and skills they need to understand and contribute to shaping a world based on communities living within the limits of earth’s resources. This paper aims to offer a novel solution to the challenge of teaching students from different disciplines struggling with the complexity of sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores the development of an interdisciplinary subject designed for undergraduate students from four faculties. It presents a case study of pedagogy that moves away from three pillars/concentric circles approaches towards practices based in systems thinking and interactive transformative learning. It describes the iterative process of developing and implementing an infographic: the “Sustainability Wheel of Fortune” (Wheel), to support constructive alignment of content, assessment tasks and learning outcomes.

Findings

The Wheel provides a holistic, interconnected and dynamic focus for framing content and teaching. The pedagogy aligns with sustainability competencies, builds in flexibility in response to changing times and student experiences and provides teachers and students with a common framework for interrogating the possibilities for sustainable futures.

Originality/value

The Wheel is a novel learning tool for contemporary sustainability education. It captures key elements of approaches to and concepts about sustainability, visually reinforces the idea of a holistic interconnected approach and provides a framework that supports the constructive pedagogy of an interdisciplinary sustainability subject.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Special Issue

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 4 January 2013

David T. Robinson

The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a short research study that introduced a group of busy managers, in an organisation in turmoil, to Stafford Beer's…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a short research study that introduced a group of busy managers, in an organisation in turmoil, to Stafford Beer's Viable System Model (VSM) through the use of a personal construct, developed by Allenna Leonard.

Design/methodology/approach

This study, designed as systemic action research, was a final project towards an Open University Masters in Systems Thinking in Practice. Initially managers were introduced to the personal VSM and invited to design their own VSM as systemic action learning. This was followed by an introductory collaborative inquiry to enable the managers to use their VSM learning to interrogate their organisational domain through the VSM lens.

Findings

The managers engaged well with the personal VSM (PVSM). All the managers reported that the PVSM was a useful learning tool and provided beneficial professional development to help clarify activities, priorities and their roles. They reported that the collaborative meeting was a very useful means to help them see others' perspectives and work towards gaining a shared understanding of the issues and challenges within the organisation through the VSM lens.

Practical implications

The VSM is not well understood or routinely used in current management thinking. This method of introducing the VSM to managers has wide implications for providing managers with an introduction to systems thinking and an opportunity to engage openly with a valuable tool that will help their understanding of modern organisational complexity.

Originality/value

Using the personal VSM with managers has not been reported before and this study provides new opportunities to develop a means to introduce complex conceptual systems models to busy managers.

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Article
Publication date: 2 July 2019

Dennis B. Desmond, David Lacey and Paul Salmon

The purpose of this paper is to present the findings from a literature review, which aimed to identify previous studies evaluating cryptolaundering from a systems thinking

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the findings from a literature review, which aimed to identify previous studies evaluating cryptolaundering from a systems thinking perspective. The aim of this paper is to first confirm that cryptolaundering systems can indeed be defined as complex socio-technical systems and second to present the findings from a systematic review of the literature to determine the extent to which previous research has adopted a systems thinking perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

The study involved a SLR of studies published in the peer-reviewed literature between 2009 and 2018. Rasmussen’s risk management framework (Rasmussen, 1997) was used to evaluate the extent to which a systems thinking perspective had been adopted.

Findings

The cryptolaundering process is considered to be a complex socio-technical system. The review demonstrates that no previous studies have defined cryptolaundering as a complex socio-technical system or used systems thinking framework approach to evaluate how criminals, regulatory bodies or law enforcement entities understand processes and assess risk within cryptolaundering systems. It is argued that using such an approach to the cryptolaundering process would likely improve assessing criminal risk analyses of cryptolaundering and assist law enforcement and regulatory bodies with understanding risk management during the laundering of cryptocurrencies.

Originality/value

Future assessments of cryptolaundering using socio-technical system analytical processes may afford law enforcement and regulatory bodies the opportunity to improve intervention techniques and identify gaps in regulations and enforcement.

Details

Journal of Money Laundering Control, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1368-5201

Keywords

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