SYSTEMS INQUIRY


Part A

The systems view is a world-view (a way of looking at the world) as seen from many perspectives.

SYSTEMS INQUIRY is a discipline based on this view of the world as a system.

Central to systems inquiry is the concept of SYSTEM. In the most general sense, system means here a configuration of parts connected and joined together by a web of RELATIONSHIPS.

Basically, a system is how things are working together. Bertalanffy defined system as "elements in standing relationship." The Primer group defines system as a family of relationships among the members INTERACTING as a whole.

The joining and integrating of the web of relationships creates EMERGENT PROPERTIES which we then experience as a whole. These properties, because they are a property of the relationships, will not be found in any analysis of just the parts. This is the VALUE of systems theory, seeing the WHOLENESS that can't be seen in the parts apart.

(It is these relationships, and how we are to deal with them, that is new about the systems view.)

Systems Inquiry is a research model (paradigm) of how things work together to attain wholeness

Part B

 

SYSTEMS INQUIRY is a system itself.

As a conceptual system, it has four interrelated and internally consistent aspects recursively interacting as a whole:

(SEE MODEL HERE)

Here is an example of a model. This particular model illustrates the fourfold system inquiry. Each of the quadrants represent the philosophy (general principles) science (particulars) methodology (planning) and application (action), to get an idea of how the model works, print it out, cut around the circle. pin it to a wall through the center, and spin it around.

Thus, Systems Inquiry, when taken as a whole, is a prescription for action; to determine the general principles, to find specific examples, to develop a plan for action and finally to carry out the action.

Subsequently, systems inquiry embraces two kinds of disciplined inquiry;

it's conclusion-orientated inquiry mode PRODUCES systems knowledge,

its decision orientated inquiry mode APPLIES systems knowledge to the formulation and selection of systems methods that address real-world situations.

 

Part C

Elaboration

SYSTEMIC PHILOSOPHY asks the question, "How can we understand systems in principle?" In contrast to the analytic, reductionist, linear, single cause-and-effect view of the philosophy of classical science, systems philosophy brings forth a reorganization of ways of thinking and knowing of perceived reality, a view manifested in synthetic, expansionist, dynamic, and multiple/mutual causality modes of thinking and inquiring, With the perspectives of systems philosophy, we look at the world in terms of facts and events in the context of wholes, and we understand them as integrated sets purposefully arranged in systemic relations. In terms of verbs rather than nouns.

Each scientific discipline in classical science has developed its OWN theoretical scheme. SYSTEMS SCIENCE, on the other hand, transcends those disciplinary boundaries, seeking alikeness (or isomorphy) of philosophical principles amd applied concepts and laws that exist in the various realms of experience. Thus, we are able to INTEGRATE, within the framework of systems theory, the findings of the various disciplines. That is the unique POWER of systems theory. With this power we can understand and work with the insights and knowledge generated by the disciplines that are relevant to our domain of inquiry The organized arrangement of these "general principles" constitutes a GENERAL THEORY OF SYSTEMS - an exposition applying to all systems which science ten elaborates on in particular ways.

SYSTEMS METHODOLOGY differs from the methodologies of the disciplines in that the methodology of a particular discipline is clearly identified and is to be adhered to, In Systems Inquiry, on the other hand, one selects -- from a wide range of approaches, methods, and tools that best fit -- the TYPE of system, the PURPOSE and NATURE of the Inquiry and the specific problem SITUATION. Systems Methodology has two domains of Inquiry; (a) the study of methods by which we pursue systems scholarship and produce systems knowledge, and (b) the identification and description , methods, and tools for applying systems theory and systemic thinking in the analysis, design and development of complex systems. More specifically, this task is twofold:

When we talk about SYSTEMS APPLICATION we are considering the application of systems approaches/models/methodologies/methods/tools in a specific FUNCTIONAL CONTEXT, E.G., a social system INVOLVES the following:

(1) select the approch/model/methodology/methods/tools that are appropriate to:
(2) the type of systems in consideration: rigidly controlled , deterministic, purposive, heuristic, purpose seeking AND
(3) the specific domain of inquiry: description (of the system), analysis, design, development, management.

 

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