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History repeats itself: current traps in complexity practice from a systems perspective

By Raymond Ison and Sandro Luis Schlindwein

Abstract

This paper discusses the history of systems scholarship and how this has been translated\ud into particular forms of purposeful action, like complexity practice. Both systems and\ud complexity approaches have something to offer when the situation is no longer amenable\ud to analysis based on linear causality or reductionist approaches. In the hands of aware\ud practitioners both offer epistemological devices for shifting our mental furniture and both\ud are rich sources of metaphors, which have the capacity to trigger new and emergent\ud understandings. In the last 70 or so years of systems scholarship those involved have\ud diverged into a plethora of traditions or lineages, conserving, knowingly or not, one of\ud two epistemological positions: the objectivist or positivist position and the constructivist\ud or interpretivist position. These two epistemological positions constitute two language\ud communities even though many who participate in them are unaware that they do. The\ud trap in all of this is that so many people act without awareness of the positions that they\ud hold or uphold and the historicity of their thinking and acting, resulting in conflict,\ud rejection, lack of valuing of difference, bifurcation into smaller and smaller communities\ud of practice, unethical practice, etc. Based on examples coming from academic practice,\ud research management, modeling practice, policy praxis, among others, the implications of\ud this lack of awareness are discussed

Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:oro.open.ac.uk:8511
Provided by: Open Research Online

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