A systems and cybernetic perspective on complex problem solving

  • Kevin J. Molloy

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis is concerned with Organisational Problem Solving. The work reflects the complexities of organisational problem situations and the eclectic approach that has been necessary to gain an understanding of the processes involved. The thesis is structured into three main parts. Part I describes the author's understanding of problems and suitable approaches. Chapter 2 identifies the Transcendental Realist (TR) view of science (Harre 1970, Bhaskar 1975) as the best general framework for identifying suitable approaches to complex organisational problems. Chapter 3 discusses the relationship between Checkland's methodology (1972) and TR. The need to generate iconic (explanatory) models of the problem situation is identified and the ability of viable system modelling to supplement the modelling stage of the methodology is explored in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 builds further on the methodology to produce an original iconic model of the methodological process. The model characterises the mechanisms of organisational problem situations as well as desirable procedural steps. The Weltanschauungen (W's) or "world views" of key actors is recognised as central to the mechanisms involved. Part II describes the experience which prompted the theoretical investigation.
    Chapter 6 describes the first year of the project. The success of this stage is attributed to the predominance of a single W. Chapter 7 describes the changes in the organisation which made the remaining phase of the project difficult. These difficulties are attributed to a failure to recognise the importance of differing W's. Part III revisits the theoretical and organisational issues. Chapter 8 identifies a range of techniques embodying W's which are compatible with .the framework of Part I and which might usefully supplement it. Chapter 9 characterises possible W's in the sponsoring organisation. Throughout the work, an attempt is made to reflect the process as well as the product of the author's learning.
    Date of Award1981
    Original languageEnglish


    • methodology
    • problem sovling
    • realism
    • viability
    • weltanschauung

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