The role of pragmatism in the use of systems thinking for organizational change [R. K. Ellis, ISSS 1998 Paper Session, July 22/98

[Paper session, July 22/98, 1:55 p.m.]

R. K. Ellis (Lincoln School of Management, City University of London), with W. Hutchinson, (Edith Cowan University, Western Australia)

The only constant thing is change Change itself is not a finite activity Systems thinking has singularly failed in gaining wide acceptance by large consultancies and operation managers. Why? Why have System-Based Intervention Methods failed? Managers are pragmatists, with pressures to solve today's problems. Structures in organizations still tend to be hierarchical. System thinkers are in danger of living in an illusion. Systems Science is a misnomer. Priorities of systems thinkers not in line with pragmatic managers. Organizational situation should dictate choice of tools, not systems thinkers coming it. System thinking does have benefits, however. Critical system thinking has tried to reduce tension between hard and soft thinking.

Need tools which deliver systemic solutions.

Must also use systems thinking in own institutions (academia).


What about Senge? Are executives doing systems thinking, but they're not call it that. Engineers as the intermediaries between researchers and the practical world.

German university: Made the systems approach the basis of the program in management 30 years ago.

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