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Critical systemic thinking as a foundation for information systems research

Bednar, Peter LU and Welch, Christine (2012) In Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 10(3). p.144-155
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore a particular philosophical underpinning for

Information Systems (IS) research – critical systemic thinking (CST). Drawing upon previous work,

the authors highlight the principal features of CST within the tradition of critical research and attempt

to relate it to trends in the Italian school of IS research in recent years, as exemplified by the work of

Claudio Ciborra but also evident in work by, e.g. Resca, Jacucci and D’Atri.

Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual paper which explores CST, characterised

by a focus on individual uniqueness, and socially-constructed, individual worldviews as generators of

human... (More)
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore a particular philosophical underpinning for

Information Systems (IS) research – critical systemic thinking (CST). Drawing upon previous work,

the authors highlight the principal features of CST within the tradition of critical research and attempt

to relate it to trends in the Italian school of IS research in recent years, as exemplified by the work of

Claudio Ciborra but also evident in work by, e.g. Resca, Jacucci and D’Atri.

Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual paper which explores CST, characterised

by a focus on individual uniqueness, and socially-constructed, individual worldviews as generators of

human knowing.

Findings – The paper draws on work by Heinz Klein in which he elaborated three constitutive stages

in critical research: interpretive, genealogical and constructive. The authors introduce a fourth,

reflective stage and discuss five categories of critical research, reflecting different perspectives on

emancipation, culminating in emergent expressionism, associated with Ciborra and the Italian school

more generally.

Research limitations/implications – This paper discusses approaches to CST and how they

might have practical implications in IS development. The distinction between approaches founded in

logical empiricism and those founded in hermeneutic dialectics are considered and the development of

critical and systems strands are discussed.

Practical implications – The paper addresses CST as an approach to development of information

systems. Such approaches enable users to explore their individually unique understandings and create

a constructive dialogue with one another, which emancipates and empowers users to own and control

their own development processes and hence build more productive and usable systems.

Social implications – A focus on research which is oriented towards emancipation in the tradition

of critical social theory.

Originality/value – The paper draws on extensive theoretical research carried out by the authors

over a period of more than ten years in CST and synthesises the practical implications. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Critical systemic thinking, Emergence, Improvisation, Information systems
in
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
volume
10
issue
3
pages
144 - 155
publisher
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
external identifiers
  • scopus:84993102093
ISSN
1758-8871
DOI
10.1108/14779961211261058
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9aa53efb-51b9-4f9a-86a8-c9c4bca7ef72 (old id 4317922)
alternative location
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=17047515&show=abstract
date added to LUP
2014-02-24 10:20:35
date last changed
2017-09-17 04:15:54
@article{9aa53efb-51b9-4f9a-86a8-c9c4bca7ef72,
  abstract     = {Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore a particular philosophical underpinning for<br/><br>
Information Systems (IS) research – critical systemic thinking (CST). Drawing upon previous work,<br/><br>
the authors highlight the principal features of CST within the tradition of critical research and attempt<br/><br>
to relate it to trends in the Italian school of IS research in recent years, as exemplified by the work of<br/><br>
Claudio Ciborra but also evident in work by, e.g. Resca, Jacucci and D’Atri.<br/><br>
Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual paper which explores CST, characterised<br/><br>
by a focus on individual uniqueness, and socially-constructed, individual worldviews as generators of<br/><br>
human knowing.<br/><br>
Findings – The paper draws on work by Heinz Klein in which he elaborated three constitutive stages<br/><br>
in critical research: interpretive, genealogical and constructive. The authors introduce a fourth,<br/><br>
reflective stage and discuss five categories of critical research, reflecting different perspectives on<br/><br>
emancipation, culminating in emergent expressionism, associated with Ciborra and the Italian school<br/><br>
more generally.<br/><br>
Research limitations/implications – This paper discusses approaches to CST and how they<br/><br>
might have practical implications in IS development. The distinction between approaches founded in<br/><br>
logical empiricism and those founded in hermeneutic dialectics are considered and the development of<br/><br>
critical and systems strands are discussed.<br/><br>
Practical implications – The paper addresses CST as an approach to development of information<br/><br>
systems. Such approaches enable users to explore their individually unique understandings and create<br/><br>
a constructive dialogue with one another, which emancipates and empowers users to own and control<br/><br>
their own development processes and hence build more productive and usable systems.<br/><br>
Social implications – A focus on research which is oriented towards emancipation in the tradition<br/><br>
of critical social theory.<br/><br>
Originality/value – The paper draws on extensive theoretical research carried out by the authors<br/><br>
over a period of more than ten years in CST and synthesises the practical implications.},
  author       = {Bednar, Peter and Welch, Christine},
  issn         = {1758-8871},
  keyword      = {Critical systemic thinking,Emergence,Improvisation,Information systems},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {144--155},
  publisher    = {Emerald Group Publishing Limited},
  series       = {Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society},
  title        = {Critical systemic thinking as a foundation for information systems research},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/14779961211261058},
  volume       = {10},
  year         = {2012},
}