International Society for the Systems Sciences: Journals ISSS

    Developing a Systemic Program Evaluation Methodology: A Critical Systems Perspective

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    In recent years there has been an increased interest within the program evaluation field for introducing systems thinking concepts in it. However, most of these attempts have been primarily directed towards supporting the practice of evaluation and not towards making theoretical advancements. This article is focused on introducing systems thinking concepts at a theoretical level, particularly those related to boundary critique in the program evaluation field by reframing the Fourth Generation evaluation methodology. I will introduce the general ideas for carrying out such reframing as well as describing the major changes produced in the methodology and how the introduction of these concepts may be beneficial for conducting an evaluative process

    ” The General Theory of Dynamics Systemicity” Part 7

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    "The Bioethism paradigm" (acronym for Biology-Ethology, ecology - Humanism) fosters universal specificities relative to the complexity of Life's processing, which in form of open systems, appeared on Earth from biochemical components and survival proprieties within propitious physicochemical environmental forces (J.-J. Blanc 1996).For reference, the author’s past proceedings were developed - part after part since 2004 - as the structure and chapters of a “General Theory of Metadynamics Systemicity”. Its building blocks are being centered on the Universe diversity of x-dynamics: petadynamics teradynamics, gigadynamics’, metadynamics’, dynamics’, microdynamics’ and nanodynamics’ systemicity.  The set of X-dynamics are, in physics, multipliers defined in powers of 1015 to 10-6, proceeding in increments of three orders of magnitude (10' or 1`000), such as: peta, giga, meta, kilo, micro, nano...The publication of these works is meant to support the acquisition of a large transdisciplinary understanding of the “x-dynamics’ systemicity world” that sustains the whole evolution of the Universe system’s components as well as those of living entities (things, objects, individuals), while perceiving and experiencing sets of forces and fluxes. This is why the theory of Systemicity emerged from synergies as applying the principles of “The Bioethism Transdisciplinary Paradigm of Universal Systems” down to ”Living systems” both having their specific temporal survival” that the author J.-J. Blanc developed since 1996.-           “Systemicity” is a notion that surges from interrelation, interaction, intrication…within interdependent synergies. The systemicity of atomic and molecular cycles has made and sustains both cosmic systems and Life’s cycles on planet Earth along differential time periods (trillion of light-years to less than hours) and their specific retroactivity.-          Intrication is the quantum entanglement of a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently — instead, a quantum state may be given for the system as a whole, in other ways its metabolism status.-          Measurements of physical properties such as position, momentum, spin, polarization, etc. performed on entangled particles are found to be appropriately correlated.The different parts of “X-dynamics Systemicity” are developed through a new “reading grid of natural structures and behaviors of entities, objects and things as adapting from “neighboring’” within “neighborhoods” (ecosystems) where they specifically cope with endogenous and exogenous events and forces inducing to the retroactive temporal restructuring of  their structure and behavioral aptitudes (as in part 6).Neighboring is “to associate in a neighborly way, to communicate with, to live side by side with, and to overlook and look out. Biological molecule sequences, while neighboring, are participating in the structuring and the evolution of “cosmobjects”(JJB), organism, species and entities along their reproduction abilities. It infers nature and extent of selective forces, those driving the evolving shaping of atom sets and organism genes (mutations). In other words, as in this part 7, “survival means” possess diverse perception, memory and experience tools that empower their adaptability to the permanency of all things to happen and change, i.e.:  they possess means as how to “give sense to things around from the interpretation of what’s they perceive. The choice of the sense given may be lethal or propitious to their surviving. In order to exist, both objects and living creatures expressions are replicating and evolve thanks to their perception and feeling survival tools within global, glocal and local areas (ecosystems) and by their natural structures and behavioral components which shape some form of sytemicity processes that sustain their survival. Resulting actions and gene mutations are permanently changing both the endogen milieu and external environmental ecosystems metabolism and components quality (e.g.: means used from vision interpreting [1]the formation of a move or a feeling driving to its systemicity result like fear; the gravity effect of two masses as sustaining a balanced equilibrium, flying away…).Subsequently, through ecosystems’ 3D multi-layers, from proto-organisms to humans, their individualities take on specific social traits and behavioral statuses that account for the diversity of species to get developed and/or to go extinct. For example, when the Earth became a "snowball" from a nearly total glaciation (-600 Mo/y), the survival of some neighboring bacteria and micro-organisms escaping the drastic extinction of most species, conversely perceiving ways of adaptation, boosted up an extraordinary explosion of marine species bearing quite new functions (- 545Mo/y), that then after volcanic holes progressively reheated areas of the planet and boosted some organisms population revivals from the systemicity of sets of interrelated metadynamics and their symbiotic outputs propitious with adaptation and evolution.The Universe’s global environment generates x-dynamics such as cosmic petadynamics (black holes? Black energy?), teradynamics, gigadynamics and metadynamics cycles... in form of systemic forces, fluxes and moves occur within immense gas and particles neighborhoods. Interrelated, they are some of the main physicochemical cosmic, galactic, stellar, planetary and terrestrial feedback synergies from which x-dynamics systemicity retroactions emerge (i.e. rock cycles). Sets of systemicity results make atoms and molecules to participate in the structuring of matter and cosmic objects (nebulae, baby stars, stars and planets, waters and rocks), within a molecular world that originated from and after the “Big Bang” a nd the role of aggregation.Furthermore, the physicochemical neighboring conditions for planet Earth to stabilize within the “Sun’s green belt” was a thermodynamics and environmental balanced state issued from the presence of the Moon’s mass aggregation at the right distance so as to become propitious for Life to “hatch” (gravity and tidal forces). Such favorable position, sustaining the Earth and Life’s evolution by the development of x-dynamic adaptive pathways, is in some sort of a synchronistic status with universal objects survival cycles, forces, fluxes, moves and matter that as “perceiving, giving sense and experiencing things” is highly evolving as to experiencing things” in several synergetic manners, (e.g. cosmic objects feeling, plants natural and emotional intelligence. . .). Perception tools are physicochemical and organic features treating signals- like neurons- or other microtubule as protein structures and links around brain networks. Microtubules are a component of the cytoskeleton[2], found throughout the cytoplasm. The microtubule can dynamically switch between growing and shrinking phases in this region (“search and capture model”), a matter of neighboring milieu.Life as a whole and living entities, while neighboring around, are confronted with gravitation, electromagnetism, chemical and physical phenomena, and particularly with temperature and the “thermodynamics of entropy”. Filtering their milieu symptoms and their environmental events signals, living creatures develop means of perception in ways their inner systems and organs such as the immune one, emotional brain with amygdala and reptilian area or vision with eyes are well fit drivers for supporting their survival behaviors.The neighboring areas (mille-feuille as 4D-networks) are diverse but concomitant producing forces and fluxes that are dynamical drivers within the diverse ecosystems. Their systemicity results from actions of coalescence, conjunction, co-evolution, convergence, symbiosis, percolation, phase transition or threshold output, neighborhood adaptation, etc. Universally, these actions and mechanisms concern atomic, molecular and physicochemical world’s permanently provoking feedback that drives the evolution of systemicity cycles and perception means. Because of the development of similarities in unrelated matters or organisms present in similar environments, a balanced equilibrium is necessary to sustain the whole of things to survive temporally. The disappearance of a link along a food chain completely disorganizes the ecosystem’s metabolism endangering its sustainability.Specific bonds and traits of structures and behaviors, as well as evolution trends for “surviving objects and living creatures” require a certain knowledge and a memory about actions-reactions (drivers) from ago-antagonistic signals and stimuli in order to give the propitious answer to an adaptation, then evolution of things. Issued from ecosystemic and socio-systemic metabolism and environmental statuses (geophysics, climate, predator preys networks of food chains…), these signals sustain things thanks to the x-dynamics systemic retroactivity results reigning about from the convergence of multi-symbiosis.A "Closer Look at Instincts", in animals, has the inherent tendency to engage spontaneously into particular pattern of behaviors. Examples of this include a dog shaking after it gets wet, a sea turtle seeking out the ocean after hatching, or a bird migrating before the winter season.This part of the theory, the 7th one, describes the major dynamics that symbiotically pilot “key drivers” that represent the general act of “symbiotic perception”. This act, occurring at the cosmos and biological objects levels, is inducing to different physicochemical interactions and laws (gravity…), prolonged down to the Earth major dynamic drivers that induce to its survival as well as survival specifications, adaptations and an immense evolution n of bushy Life’s species which hatched from water, oxygen, carbo dioxide, hydrogen and nitrogen…showing the four functions of such an happening:­       Proteins: Amino acids, protection of the body,­       Lipid: Fats, store energy and build up cell membrane,­       Carbohydrates: Sugar, provides physicochemical energy,­       Nucleic Acid: DNA, RNA, provide an organism the knowledge of basic functions and genetics functions.One may easily understand here that human sociology shows such the diversity of neighboring comportments and effects issued from these basic perception outfits, both being endogenous and exogenous. Observing then, that the various effects of systemicity are universally giving sense to what happens, driving the dynamics systemicity results at survival tools to induce to with adaptation and evolution necessities. Thanks to perception capacities (instinct, intelligence,) and a variety of memories (short, long term…) from which permanently emerge the symbiosis of differential qualities capable to give sense to things then to a survival timeline.

    Contributing to Sustainability through Translation in Governing the Anthropocene

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    There are many factors that contribute to changes in the Earth’s system, one of which is humanity. Due to the loss of habitat related to human activities, slightly less than a quarter of Earth’s terrestrial biomes are untouched. We seem to be living in a transition period from the Holocene epoch into the Anthropocene epoch. We are faced with many and diverse kinds of environmental changes that have been taking place. It is apparently a new phase in the history of humanity as well as the planet Earth which is being shaped by human forces and natural forces. The Earth that we live on is a permanently changing system. It is changing irreversibly through human activity, which will leave a substantial trace in the geological record of the Earth’s history. Some of these changes are permanent, even on a geological time scale. Since the beginning of the 19th century, there has been a rise in the number of human beings from under a billion to over six billion now. A rapidly growing population has had a global impact on the environment and made the exploitation of natural resources soar. There have been major changes to the Earth in terms of landscape and biodiversity. As a consequence of the global impact of human activities, sustainability of the Earth in the age of the Anthropocene has important consequences. This could pose a potential threat to biodiversity and international peace apart from geology. As a force of nature, humanity needs to act responsibly in order to compensate for the human impact on the environment and engage in processes that will re-shape a future that is morally acceptable. All global human initiatives are about people working together across different languages and cultures around the world. Social sciences can also play a part in understanding the Anthropocene. Therefore, I will focus on how translation could help to coordinate international initiatives and communicate more effectively in order to address the Anthropocene. Better communication will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of global initiatives. This will result in human action changing from uncoordinated individual action to coordinated social action at either local or global levels. Coping with (governing) the challenges of the age of the Anthropocene will require a collaborative effort taking into account multilingual communication

    Embracing the complexity: Multiple interests and debated resolutions in the pineapple value chain in Uganda

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    Strengthening horticultural value chains can be used for improving food and nutrition security while reducing rural poverty. However, the complexity of local situations challenges the effectiveness of blueprint development strategies and calls for actor-oriented approaches. The fresh pineapple value chain in Uganda is illustrative of such a complex situation. The market supply is not organized by dominant lead firms. In contrast, individually negotiated and context specific actor relationships and their purposeful activities form and sustain this human activity system. As value chain actors take multiple factors for their business activities into account, the aim of our system analysis is to elicit their perspectives on the influence of these factors. This provides a more contextualized understanding to inclusively increase local actors’ benefits.We used a systems learning approach, in which farmers, traders, brokers and scientists were seeking a better understanding of the local value chain. Cognitive mapping and additional qualitative methods were used to reveal internally held perceptions about the factors and their influences on income generation from engaging in the pineapple value chain. Several meetings with participants from single actor groups informed subsequent multi-actor meetings: four with farmers (4-8 each) and four with traders (2-7 each). Group cognitive maps served as a starting point for ten meetings which included participants from several actor groups (4-13 each). To foster a feeling of connectedness between actors along the chain, these consecutive multi-actor meetings evolved around the factors and situations that participants had identified as influential to all actor groups, such as prices, markets, quality and communication. Semi-structured interviews and participant observation further complemented the analysis.The approach resulted in a contextualized picture of how multiple natural, technical and social factors influenced actors’ income generation in the pineapple value chain, e.g. farm and market price, market size, quality, seasonality, production methods and skills, buyer-seller relationships and transportation. There was little disagreement about the rationale of the influence of factors during the single actor group meetings. However, the number of factors and the perceived cause-effect relations differed markedly between actor groups. The dialogue during multi-actor meetings revealed different aspects of problem-situations. Participants expressed solutions and also explained barriers to them. For all actors in the chain to profit from their respective business activities, awareness of prices and other market information is particularly important. However, problematic communication patterns between actors pose current challenges and dissatisfactions. The flow of information was disrupted by the intertwined patterns of changes in prices, supply and demand, along with structural constellations, such as many small-scale farmers, relatively few brokers linking production areas to distant market centers and many, dispersed traders in different markets. Moreover, prices were individually negotiated and generally competitively formed. The occurring fragmentation among actors is a result and also a cause for communication problems, fluctuations and actor relations. The controversial debates regarding proposed solutions, showed that the feedback cycles are difficult for actors to break given the contextual constraints and their conflicting interests.The participatory activities and shared explanations allowed surfacing of problematic patterns and value chain structures that caused friction and hindered broader collaboration. The approach helped to trigger dialogue and understanding between otherwise often competing market actors. While actors are aware of the benefits from improved collaboration, the gained contextualized system understanding revealed why this is difficult to implement. Participatory system learning can reveal actors’ room of maneuver, and contribute to a process that enables actor-driven system change

    A Study on the Learning Mode of Tourism Experiences

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    Travel experiences while learning where the traveler goes and what different things they see from everyday life. This brings pleasant, meaningful, and valuable experiences. Dewey's (1938) theory of experiential learning emphasizes “learning by doing ”. He learns and gains by reflecting on the insights. His personal observation and actions reflect certain behaviors. The process of experiential learning in tourism is an extremely important elements which complement each other.The purpose of this paper is to construct a “travel experience learning model” based on the “empirical learning theory”. The general mode of discussion includes topics i.e. the motives of the travel process, decision-making, project implementation, and reflection. However, there have been a few studies on motives, choices, decisions, and implementation plans for research on tourism. In the past, research on tourism related areas was primarily in motivation, choice decision-making, and implementation plans. There was little discussion about an individual's experience promoting the growth process. Therefore, the tourism experience learning model was the subject of inquiry. Based the qualitative content literature analysis, the relevant conceptions of the travel experiences of “knapsack tourism” and “self-help tourism” findings, the framework of the “travel experience learning model” was extracted as the goal. Finally the tourism experience learning Management implications discussion

    Causality and Reponsibility

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    Systems theory developed within the cybernetics movement as an enriched understanding of causal connections, but most people still make decisions on the basis of simple lineal connections between actions and desired outcomes.  Decisions made on this basis are at the root of todays environmental crisis, which is only intelligible in systems terms.  As we look ahead at the anthropocene,  it is essential to shift from lineal to systemic decision making and reshape our "common sense" about the nature of responsibility, intention and causation.  When and how is such a change possible in the life cycle?

    Self-governance and symbiosis: a systemic approach to Socio Ecological Systems resilience

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    Several approaches understand resilience as a systemic attribute that emerges in the relationship between the system and its niche or environment; it is distinguished by an observer as a system's capability to persist or to maintain its intern change dynamics in consideration with (in some cases, despite of) environmental change dynamics. Described this way, resilience is an attribute related with viability, which implies considering aspects such as adaptability and transformability. Throughout this document we argue that it may be desirable to take into account a more holistic and complex way to approach resilience in Socio Ecological Systems - SES. Looking for a deep understanding of change dynamics in SES and what it may be a desirable change path for human societies, the aim of the paper is to introduce the symbiotic metaphor as a way to describe and understand relationships between human and ecological systems. We also argue that this approach brings up useful implications for self-organisation at various levels of systemic aggregation in human systems. Along the document we build a statement for changing resilience and governance analysis in terms of intern and environmental change dynamics, in such a way that change and self-organisation considerations are structured around relationship dynamics. The paper concludes showing how this approach has been useful for understanding dynamics of two different SES in the Colombian Andean Eco Region and discusses the implications we may draw for future research

    Expecting the Unexpected - Coping with Crisis

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    In this paper we identify the different ways of reacting to the impacts of disasters. We stress the advantage of pro-actively fighting disasters by means of appropriate preparation and intervention. Two of the most important support strategies are Anticipation and Crisis Science used in combination and supported by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Based on the 5 phases of Disaster Management we identify essential activities to be performed before, during and after a disaster and point to the necessary application of Crisis Science

    Bridge the Gap: spanning the distance between teaching, learning and application of systems thinking in the workplace

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    P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; } This paper reports on a study looking at teaching, learning and application of systems thinking ideas for the workplace. It provides suggestions for designing learning systems to enhance the application of systems thinking in the workplace. Drawing upon a qualitative interview process, the research looked at experiences of mature part-time students on a distance learning postgraduate programme in systems thinking in practice at the Open University, UK. The study also investigated the experiences of alumni (from the same programme) from the point of view as employees seeking to apply the learning from their studies in the workplace. Interviews were also conducted with employers of the alumni. Finally, a range of stakeholder including those who took part in the interviews were invited to a workshop to explore the design questions to enhance applicationof systems thinking. The paper briefly describes three phases of the research. A review of the outcomes of this study prompts some key recommendations for future design of part-time postgraduate courses in systems thinking for professional practitioners. Two broad areas of insight emerge: changes in the way learners are supported during study and attempting to influence the landscape of practice by creating demand for systems thinking skills

    A Study of Systems Research Design: An Examination of Systemic and Systematic Methods used to Study Chinese Women's Decision to Study Abroad

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    In this paper we examine the systemic methodological choices involved in studying the ethical decision space within which Chinese women come to decide to attend an American university in pursuit of a business education.  In the research we wished to develop insight about the role of the student herself in the decision-making process in relation to others involved.  Insofar as the decision-making process involves a multitude of interacting influences, the researchers conceived of this space as a system of people and ideas that contribute a sense of the “rightness” of studying abroad in a young adult Chinese woman’s life. From a research design perspective, exploring a decision space like this was not straightforward.  We were studying what we conceived as a systemic ethical decision-making phenomenon, fraught with the difficulties inherent in cross-cultural data collection.  This research was not designed to critique the complex decision-making processes that study participants had engaged in before coming to study in the U.S.  Nonetheless, we faced the very real potential that women participating in the research could perceive themselves as having to hide certain information, or conversely, display their idea of favorable responses to the researchers’ questions.   We needed to overcome differences of both language and culture between members of the research team and research subjects.  Further, we set for ourselves the challenge to formulate a design that would be both systemic and systematic.  No extant theories existed on the ethics of decision-making processes resulting in Chinese women coming to study abroad.  Consequently, we used grounded theory methods to inductively illuminate the emergent meaning-making processes involved in such a decision, given this method’s systematic and rigorous set of procedures and techniques for theory building.  Along with grounded theory-informed interviews, we facilitated each study participant in developing a rich picture of the systems of people, processes, and meaning-making that exerted influence on her decision to study abroad.  Together, interviews and rich pictures enabled our participants to make explicit the contextual complexities of their decisions and to communicate those complexities to us.  Importantly, the research techniques we used helped participants to explore ethical complexities of their decision in a safe way. 
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