Five sketches of post-modernism: Implications for systems thinking and operational research

Midgley, G. (2004) Five sketches of post-modernism: Implications for systems thinking and operational research. Journal of Organisational Transformation & Social Change, 1 1: 47-62.


Author Midgley, G.
Title Five sketches of post-modernism: Implications for systems thinking and operational research
Journal name Journal of Organisational Transformation & Social Change   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1477-9633
Publication date 2004
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Volume 1
Issue 1
Start page 47
End page 62
Total pages 16
Place of publication Bristol, England
Publisher Intellect
Language eng
Subject 1401 Economic Theory
1503 Business and Management
Abstract There is a long history of work in systems thinking and operational research (henceforth referred to as 'systems/OR') geared to facilitating organizational change and/or wider social improvement. Recently, however, the 'improvement' agenda has been subject to a sustained critique from people who take an explicitly postmodern stance. This paper presents five 'sketches' of postmodernism, and draws out some implications for systems/OR. The first sketch is of a dogmatic postmodernism that places conversation at the forefront of its agenda, but fails to enter into a conversation itself. It therefore collapses under the weight of a contradiction between its theory and practice. The second is of a more open postmodernism that is prepared to recognize its own status as a conversational device, and thereby its own transitory nature. This suggests the need for the systems/OR community to act as participants in debate, continually developing their own and others' views. The third sketch focuses on the central contradiction of a postmodern meta-narrative condemning all meta-narratives but its own. This raises some interesting issues, not the least of which is the realization that the term 'meta-narrative' is usually used pejoratively. We may therefore need to moderate the use of such language to facilitate productive debates on key issues of concern for the future of systems/OR. The fourth sketch looks at the irony of inevitable contradictions in postmodern theory, and the consequent move away from the notion that the role of rationality is to harmonize ideas. Several possible consequences for systems/OR are identified: further rational (harmonizing) explanations of 'inevitable contradictions' in postmodern theory may be provoked, or the shift away from a traditional notion of rationality may liberate systems/OR from a relatively narrow range of analytical methods. The fifth and final sketch examines the political con-sequences of postmodernism as expressed in liberalism. A... [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Keyword Operations research
System theory
Industrial engineering
Organizational change
Postmodernism
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
 
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Created: Mon, 12 Apr 2010, 14:14:39 EST by Ms Lynette Adams on behalf of Faculty Of Nat Resources, Agric & Veterinary Sc