The Genesis of a Meta Methodology for Human Systems Inquiry -- Arne Collen
ISSS Meeting at Asilomar, June 28-July 2, 1999
Paper Session, June 28, 1999, 1:30 p.m., chaired by Arne Collen
These participant's notes were created
in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s)
and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official
transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual.
Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected.
Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes
have been contributed by David Ing (http://coevolving.com) at the IBM AdvancedBusiness Institute ( http://www.ibm.com/abi ).
Introduction for the SIG:
Human systems inquiry: puts human beings first (over other systems), with
the second emphasis on inquiry.
Particular focus on applications and case studies.
Interest in duality of human beings and methodology
Interest in technology and complexity, which is the theme for this conference.
Would like to look at ways in which methodology (including technology)
is giving rise to pressure to try to look at new ways of understanding,
as globalization occurs.
Paper about the points of origins of what moves a research to a more complex
situation in methodology.
Looking critically and constructively in the systems movement, if people
say that general systems theory will help address complexity with people
in globalization, can the methodology live up to the claim?
If we move to macro level processes, are our methodologies appropriate?
Table: suggests methodologies are becoming more complex.
Confluence of human activity:
As we advance technologies, they help us with this complexity, but also
create more complexity.
Drives many changes: urbanization, tourism, deforestation, ...
Research should become more macro.
Range of established research methods:
Will tax resources available to researchers.
e.g. micro-levels genetic engineering.
e.g. satellite photo of United States, lit up at night
e.g. macro: global satellites.
Most research applies to small groups
How does this influence research?
Collective forms: focus groups, teams, ...
Rapid advances in communication and data processing, allow extension of
reach to more macro levels.
Methods: Interviews, questionnaires, observe performance, ...
e.g. observe suburbanization, movement in financial markets, spread of
disease, access to knowledge, consumer purchases.
USA Today article: Visions of an info skyway
Current methodological streams: new transdisciplinary research frontier.
Globalization leads to more emergent outcomes.
Thesis of paper: recognize this predicament.
1994: Craig McGaw and Bill Gates proposed a worldwide satellite network,
which would cover 95% of the surface of the earth.
How to advance the human methodologies, with the globalization;
Evidence that this is happening
or are we expecting the old methodologies to work?
||Universe: who? where?
||Univariate: one or a few simple variables
||Multivariate: looking at interactions
|Factors (or causes which impact on human beings)
||Single factor (or source)
||Many: e.g. organizational learning
||Solo (with lots of dissertations)
||Team (often when outside of academia)
||Multi- or cross-disciplinary, not restricted
by knowledge domains or original fields of study
||Multi-method, even using methods that appear
to be in conflict with each other.
|Paradigm (philosophical assumptions)
||Within (as defined by researcher)
||Between (jumping context, e.g. similarity between
California and international)
||Within / between types (which fits with decision-making)
||Mixed type designs
||Within / between
||Mixed (not restricted to old ideas, e.g. surveys
are only quantifications)
||Programmatic (understanding long-term effects)
|Level of Systems
||Heterarchical or hierarchical (Working a particular
|Institutional Review Board (review of projects
for ethical impact on human beings)
||Two or more -- each researcher may have to go
through multiple IRBs
|Funding Source (e.g. government, business, industry)
||Few -- maybe three or four sources to which to
Means complexification ---->
Could also look for <---- simplification.
Business is more heterarchical:
What about human liberty?
More network structures, as discussed in this morning's plenaries.
Didn't hear the word (used by psychologists) in this morning's talks about
e.g. when someone gets sick, their social environment enmeshes them.
The problems depend on the domain (e.g. business, politics)
The future of the U.S.: a country of minorities, when an national issue
will become coalitions.
Response: Parliamentary systems are about minorities, and the U.S. doesn't
have a parliamentary structure.
The issue is can you leave the context?