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Writing a research paper using systems thinking

In practice, however, such methods often vary depending on the application. This approach first entails the setting up of a client-system infrastructure or research environment. The client-system infrastructure is the specification and agreement that makes up the research environment.

A key aspect of the infrastructure is the collaborative nature of the process. Knowledge gained when action research is conducted as mentioned above can be directed to three audiences. Second, where the change was unsuccessful, the additional knowledge may provide foundations for diagnosing in preparation for further action research intervention.

In dealing with the practical concerns of people, AR is oriented towards creating a more desirable future for them. Interdependence between the client system and the researcher is an essential feature of AR. AR encourages the development of the capacity of a system to facilitate, maintain, and regulate the cyclical process of diagnosing, action planning, action taking, evaluating and specifying learning.

Developing new knowledge about system processes is a key element of the research method. The action researcher knows that many of the relationships between people, events, and things are a function of the situation as relevant actors currently define it. Even though relationships are not invariant and the situations are prone to change, appropriate actions do not depend upon previously observed relationships between actors and outcomes.

It is based writing a research paper using systems thinking knowing how the current actors define the current situations and on achieving consensus so that planned actions will produce their intended outcomes. Does Systems Thinking and Action Research fit together? As seen in the characteristics of action research, Systems Development is one of its key goals.

Action research identifies that human action is systematic and that action researchers are intervening in social systems. The following are reasons how and why Action Research can be conducted in the field of Information systems Baskerville R.

Action research aims to improve understanding of an immediate, complex social system.

Systems Thinking

The IS domain is both complex and multivariate in nature. Action Research simultaneously assists in practical problem solving and expands scientific knowledge. This helps both the IS practitioners by intervention and IS research by providing knowledge. Action Research is performed collaboratively and enhances the competencies of the respective writing a research paper using systems thinking. Action researchers do not work on research subjects but rather with them Schein, 2007.

Action Research is primarily applicable for the understanding of change processes in social systems — which is a pressing issue needing research in the IS domain. The domain of information systems action research is clearest where the human organization interacts with information systems.

Action research aims for an understanding of a complex human process rather than prescribing a universal social law. The ideal domain of IS action research method is characterized by a social setting where Baskerville R. The researcher is actively involved and the expected benefits are for both researcher and the organization. The knowledge obtained can be immediately applied.

The research is a process linking theory and practice. Soft Systems Methodology The most thoroughly documented and discussed methodological example of action research and systems thinking is Soft Systems Methodology SSM which Peter Checkland created through his work in both the management and the academic world Checkland P.

SSM is usually a seven stage process as listed below Dick, 2002: Emergence of a problem situation with which actors involved feel uncomfortable and feel the need to make improvements.

The problem situation is expressed taking care to avoid structuring the situation as it would close down original thinking and hence the learning process. Stage 3 recommends systemic thinking about the situation. Root definitions of writing a research paper using systems thinking relevant systems are defined in this stage. Human Activity systems are named that might offer insight into the problem situation, and may generate debate leading to action for improvement. Human activity systems are systemic models of the activities that people undertake in order to pursue a particular purpose.

Stage 4 elaborates on root definitions by drawing up conceptual models. Conceptual models are the minimum set of verbs necessary to describe the actions of the human activity systems.

The verbs are ordered systemically, drawing out the feedback loops that describe the interactions of the human activity systems. In stage 5, the conceptual models, which are the results of systemic thinking about the real world, are taken into the real world and are compared to the problem situation expressed in stage 2.

In stage 6, the change proposals are thought through in two ways — first, the desirability of the human activity system captured in the systems model is discussed and secondly, the issue of feasibility is explored in the context of the problem situation, attitudes and the political interactions are that involved. Stage 7 seeks to explore possible accommodation between contrasting opinions and interests that surface in the process of SSM. Implementation of agreed upon change proposals gives rise to another problem situation and so the process of SSM continues Flood R.

Seven Steps of Soft Systems Methodology Strategies for conducting Action Research Seven key strategies in conducting action research are known to improve the rigor and contribution of the research process Baskerville R. Consider the paradigm shift: Since AR does not occur in the traditional positivist philosophy of science, the action researcher should make sure that the method is appropriate for the research question and will be accepted by the audience.

Establish a formal research agreement: The researcher should also clearly arrange for the warrants that will authorize the research team to initiate action within the organization. Provide a theoretical problem statement: The theoretical framework should be present a premise for the research, otherwise the interventionist action is no longer valid as research.

The diagnosis document should include explicit theoretical foundations. As the research progresses, the emergence of theory should be recorded carefully in the research notebooks. Plan data collection methods: Action research is empirical although the collected data is typically qualitative and interpretive. Data can be collected through audio-taped observations, interviews, action experiments, and participant written cases.

Researchers or teams can also keep structured diaries. Maintain collaboration and subject learning: Action research requires careful preservation of collaboration with subjects, as they will have key knowledge, both of theory and the practical setting.

Researchers should avoid dominating the diagnosis and the action planning stages. Action research is typically cyclical. Action failures in terms of the immediate problem situations are often as important and in some cases more important action successes.

Action should continue until the immediate problem situation is relieved.

Systems thinking

The generality of theory developed in action research are founded in deductive generalizations. Generalities should be tempered with an interpretation of the extent of similar settings to which the theory can be expected to apply.

Action researchers require more rigorous documentary records than consultants. Researchers require theoretical justifications while consultants require empirical justifications.

Consultants operate under tighter time and budget constraints. Consultation is usually linear — engage, analyze, action, disengage — while the action research process is cyclical. These differentiations are not widely known and so even action researchers struggle to differentiate their work from consultation. Rapoport called this the role dilemma of action research. The researcher using this method often must remain particularly strong and loyal to their research rigor, since client interests tend to undermine scientific requirements.

Criticisms of Action Research The common criticisms of action research are The supposed lack of impartiality of the researcher has led to the rejection of the action research method by a number of researchers. This however is not a problem singular to the action research methodology. Some of the Action Research offered to the scientific community lacks rigor.

This makes it difficult for the work to be assessed. Action research is context bound and is not context free. This is due to the fact that action research is more deeply engulfed in any multivariate social experiment than other methods. Action research shares these problems with other methods. The key to overcome these problems is to better prepare the action researcher.

Systems thinking and practice

Conclusion As I was considering a topic to choose for this paper, I read about Action Research in another class which prompted this journey of reading all the literature in systems thinking and action research cited above. It is my belief that action research offers a chance to the scholars to both exhibit and equip the practitioners with the skills required to do so.

  • It is my belief that action research offers a chance to the scholars to both exhibit and equip the practitioners with the skills required to do so;
  • David and Penny decided that they would make more of an effort the next time she came, and organise a party for her;
  • Action research is typically cyclical;
  • The holistic thinker will welcome techniques that generate many approaches, whereas the reductionist thinker will be looking for criteria for reducing the approaches to just one;
  • A toolbox is a useful analogy;
  • This course will help you to learn about the problems of defining a system and meet some of the key concepts used in systems theory:

This paper has attempted to make the case for Action Research as a practical, viable means of conducting system thinking inspired research in the modern workplace.

The culture, demands, needs, burdens and the pace of the modern workplace and its inhabitants has changed drastically.

  • The more slices you have the more you will know about the whole;
  • SAQ 4 What are the three different ways of gaining new perspectives of a system?
  • After all, this is a book about systems thinking and practice, and without practising your thinking you may not learn how powerful systems ideas can be;
  • Like all resources, there are different ways to use it depending upon what you are trying to achieve;
  • The diagnosis document should include explicit theoretical foundations.

As the culture and needs change, does should the methods used to address them. Practitioners are the agents of both cause and effect — researchers are usually out-of-sync from the daily pressures that practitioners face. It is then a crucial need to not only educate the practitioners but also provide knowledge and insight that reaches the cubicles where they are writing a research paper using systems thinking needed.

More often than not, we continue to witness change driven from the top down, by the few with the power to control the many, without regard to the potential benefits of greater involvement by those who must implement the new way of operating. To challenge the dominant view will require a paradigm shift that elevates the quality of total human experience above measures of economic advancement as measures of the progress of society; that makes expert knowledge readily available to those who need it; that places speed of learning and adaptation above costs and efficiencies as ultimate measures of system performance and that are designed in accordance with the unique needs of those they serve Pasmore, 2007.

Investigating Information Systems with Action Research. Journal of Information Technology235-246. Systems Thinking, Systems Practice. Lancaster University Management School. Retrieved from Action research and evaluation on line: A Brief Review of Peter B. Systemic Practice and Action Research, Vol.

Group Decision and Social Change. The Art of Systems Thinking: