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Redesigning a project‐oriented organization in a complex system A soft systems methodology approach

Redesigning a project‐oriented organization in a complex system A soft systems methodology approach Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the usability of systems thinking in the process of redesigning a leading public housing provider within a problematic situation. The paper attempts to describe the influence of evolving negative internal socio‐political arrangements on the further development of the whole organization and suggests a purposeful activity model based on constant improvement and collaborative learning for the ongoing intervention. Design/methodology/approach – The study combines soft systems methodology, as the leading or guiding methodology, with case study research and action research. This rather pluralistic approach made it possible to adequately respond to the varying tasks and intricacies of the different research phases within a power‐laden environment. Each phase or part of the process was informed by the analysis of the preceding one, thus creating a documented learning process. Findings – The results reveal that further development within the project‐oriented organization was hindered or blocked by failure to address the oppressive socio‐political system. The proposed new design, based on systems thinking, allocates an important role to project management and its ability to cope with different paradigms and to address tame, messy as well as wicked problems. Consequently, the discipline of project management should further develop towards an equal appreciation of hard as well as soft systems thinking which emphasises a critical systems thinking approach. Practical implications – The project management capabilities needed in the complex housing system go beyond the strategic and operational level since a greater understanding of complex social systems as well as their behaviour is of major importance. This puts emphasis on problem structuring methods and methodologies, as well as their combination, so as to support the debate about the nature of organizational as well as societal problems rather than to focus on their solution. Originality/value – The paper describes the first soft systems methodology intervention in a predominantly francophone country within the European Union. It proposes a new avenue to the management of organizational as well as societal problems. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Managing Projects in Business Emerald Publishing

Redesigning a project‐oriented organization in a complex system A soft systems methodology approach

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1753-8378
DOI
10.1108/17538371211192892
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the usability of systems thinking in the process of redesigning a leading public housing provider within a problematic situation. The paper attempts to describe the influence of evolving negative internal socio‐political arrangements on the further development of the whole organization and suggests a purposeful activity model based on constant improvement and collaborative learning for the ongoing intervention. Design/methodology/approach – The study combines soft systems methodology, as the leading or guiding methodology, with case study research and action research. This rather pluralistic approach made it possible to adequately respond to the varying tasks and intricacies of the different research phases within a power‐laden environment. Each phase or part of the process was informed by the analysis of the preceding one, thus creating a documented learning process. Findings – The results reveal that further development within the project‐oriented organization was hindered or blocked by failure to address the oppressive socio‐political system. The proposed new design, based on systems thinking, allocates an important role to project management and its ability to cope with different paradigms and to address tame, messy as well as wicked problems. Consequently, the discipline of project management should further develop towards an equal appreciation of hard as well as soft systems thinking which emphasises a critical systems thinking approach. Practical implications – The project management capabilities needed in the complex housing system go beyond the strategic and operational level since a greater understanding of complex social systems as well as their behaviour is of major importance. This puts emphasis on problem structuring methods and methodologies, as well as their combination, so as to support the debate about the nature of organizational as well as societal problems rather than to focus on their solution. Originality/value – The paper describes the first soft systems methodology intervention in a predominantly francophone country within the European Union. It proposes a new avenue to the management of organizational as well as societal problems.

Journal

International Journal of Managing Projects in BusinessEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 20, 2012

Keywords: European Union; Project management; Organizational structures; Systems thinking; Action research; Soft systems methodology

References