Special Issue "Systems Research"

A special issue of Systems (ISSN 2079-8954).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 January 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Shankar Sankaran

School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, Australia
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Interests: systems thinking; soft systems methodology; action research; organizational project management; megaprojects; mixed methods research; innovation
Guest Editor
Dr. Pamela Buckle Henning

Associate Professor, Management, Marketing & Decision Sciences, Adelphi University, New York, USA.
Website | E-Mail
Interests: systems thinking; systems research competencies; group dynamics; human resources
Guest Editor
Dr. Timothy Ferris

Senior Lecturer, Cranfield University UK & University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
E-Mail
Interests: research methods for systems engineering; personal and teamwork aspects of engineering work, cross cultural issues in systems engineering; fundamental nature of engineering
Guest Editor
Dr. Mary C. Edson

President, Equipoise Enterprises, Inc. & International Federation of Systems Research (IFSR), Austria
E-Mail
Interests: systems research; organizational resilience; project team leadership; complex adaptive social systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The systems view of the world is a distinctive approach when compared with the views of other disciplines. The distinctive feature of the systems view of the world is that all things are seen as interconnected and influencing situations. As a result, understanding of systems, and of situations in the world, whether actual or potential, demands investigation, which identifies and appreciates the contribution of the many interacting factors that contribute to any situation. As such, research into systems is necessary for the scientific understanding of the nature of systems in general, the discovery of the systemic interactions of the factors present in any practical situation, and the identification and planning of appropriate interventions where there is an intention to intervene in a situation. The approach to doing such research is fundamentally different than the research conducted in many traditional disciplines. The result is that the methods used for, the results expected from and the appropriate measures of quality and effectiveness of systemic research are necessarily different than the methods used other disciplines. The aim of this Special Issue is to present current advances in knowledge about systemic research.

Some of the questions we would like authors submitting papers to think about for this special issue are:

  • What makes research systems research?
  • What are the criteria for high-calibre systems research?
  • What is the value of systemic research in comparison and as complement to other research approaches?
  • When using systems research how do we explain our ontological and epistemological philosophical underpinnings?
  • In conducting systems research, how are both the researcher and the researched system changed?

For this Special Issue, we invite you to submit papers exploring these questions further, and providing good examples of your own research that supports your own aspirations to conduct good systems research.

Examples of topics are:

  • Systems Philosophy (What are the philosophical underpinnings that systems researchers use?)
  • Problem Structuring (How do systems researchers identify their research question using systems tools and techniques used in systems practice)
  • Framework (Does a framework help guide systems Research similar to the Theoretical Framework used in conventional research)
  • Modelling and Simulation (How do models and simulation support systems research)
  • Systems Intervention (What strategies and practice do systems researcher use to intervene in systems and collect valid information)
  • Writing Up (What are some good practices in reporting systems research? Do they differ from how conventional research is reported?)
  • Competencies (What competencies should systems researchers develop to carry out systems research)
  • Competencies (How can we test or provide assurance that systems practitioners do have the competencies needed for their work?)
  • Evaluation (How are outcomes and impact of systems research evaluated?)
  • What are the ethical implications of conducting systemic research which impact a community much broader than those directly participating and giving informed consent? Case Studies

Contributors are invited to present conceptual papers, empirical papers and case studies for academic and disciplinary applications.

Prof. Dr. Shankar Sankaran
Dr. Pamela Buckle Henning
Dr. Timothy Ferris
Dr. Mary C. Edson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Systems is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Systems Research
  • Systems Practice
  • Problem Structuring
  • Modelling
  • Simulation
  • Methodology
  • Systemic Interventions
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Competencies
  • Evaluation
  • Impact

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Proposing a Process-Oriented Systems Research for Systems Thinking Development
Systems 2017, 5(2), 34; doi:10.3390/systems5020034
Received: 19 January 2017 / Revised: 5 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 7 April 2017
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Abstract
This paper discusses systems thinking development from Churchman’s systems ideas related to critical systems practice that appreciates the use of systems methods from sociolinguistic perspectives and poststructuralist thought. Systems research enabled us to understand and reinterpret Churchman’s philosophy and systems approach through the
[...] Read more.
This paper discusses systems thinking development from Churchman’s systems ideas related to critical systems practice that appreciates the use of systems methods from sociolinguistic perspectives and poststructuralist thought. Systems research enabled us to understand and reinterpret Churchman’s philosophy and systems approach through the works of Deleuze and Foucault. Based upon the interpretation of Churchman’s philosophy and systems approach, I propose ‘process-oriented systems research’ developed from the use of social appreciative process and Churchman’s metasystem approach. By applying a metasystem approach into practice, I basically appreciate Deleuzian ethics and Foucault’s theory of discourse in order to deal with issues of power and knowledge, and metaethics or moral epistemology, where the meaning of good or bad is discussed. A detailed account of an application of process-oriented systems research is given to demonstrate how I use systems methods to examine the usefulness of the systems research in practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Research)
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Open AccessArticle Systems Research and the Quest for Scientific Systems Principles
Systems 2017, 5(2), 25; doi:10.3390/systems5020025
Received: 18 January 2017 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 10 March 2017 / Published: 23 March 2017
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Abstract
Systems Research formally originated in the 1950s, but a scientific understanding of systemness is still nascent. This shortcoming produces significant risks for complex systems engineering and practice. Current “systems principles” are qualitative heuristics, and systems science is scientific more in attitude than because
[...] Read more.
Systems Research formally originated in the 1950s, but a scientific understanding of systemness is still nascent. This shortcoming produces significant risks for complex systems engineering and practice. Current “systems principles” are qualitative heuristics, and systems science is scientific more in attitude than because of any grounding in systems principles employing clear and quantifiable concepts. In this paper, I propose that a model of how principles and laws are understood across the specialized sciences can, when applied to systems science, open up new ways to discover systems principles. This approach has led to the identification of six new avenues for discovering systems principles. In this paper I explain one of these research avenues (which leverages the maturation profile of the specialized sciences) in detail, and reference active projects to pursue others. The research approach advocated in this paper has the potential to lead to a new perspective on the nature of and relationship between systems science and systems engineering. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Research)
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Open AccessArticle Apithology Systems Inquiry: Evaluation from a Generativist Ontology
Systems 2017, 5(1), 22; doi:10.3390/systems5010022
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 18 February 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 2 March 2017
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Abstract
The ontological premise of a systems research philosophy raises some unique questions about research efficacy. The study of the relations between abstract objects in bounded contexts places systems inquiry into a specific research category. Different systems research paradigms deal with the question of
[...] Read more.
The ontological premise of a systems research philosophy raises some unique questions about research efficacy. The study of the relations between abstract objects in bounded contexts places systems inquiry into a specific research category. Different systems research paradigms deal with the question of research evaluation distinctively. This article examines the defining criteria for the evaluation of systems research within a generativist systems ontology. Three criteria to inform the design of generativist systems research are proposed. Their use is illustrated for the generativist systems research discipline of apithology. The proposed criteria of research validity, credibility and reliability generate a fourth criterion: systems research veracity. A heuristic for discerning the results of a generativist research design prior to its commencement is provided by an apithology triptych. The benefit of this approach is to enable the design of research of relevance, significance and importance that leads naturally to apithology systems research of consequence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Research)

Review

Jump to: Research, Other

Open AccessReview Systems Engineering in Front-End Governance of Major Public Investment Projects
Systems 2017, 5(1), 13; doi:10.3390/systems5010013
Received: 2 January 2017 / Revised: 7 February 2017 / Accepted: 8 February 2017 / Published: 15 February 2017
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Abstract
This paper provides an account of how systems engineering principles are applied by the Norwegian government to improve up-front planning and decision-making of large public investment projects, as well as the effect of these efforts after 15 years of operations. It suggests that
[...] Read more.
This paper provides an account of how systems engineering principles are applied by the Norwegian government to improve up-front planning and decision-making of large public investment projects, as well as the effect of these efforts after 15 years of operations. It suggests that the results are promising, both in securing budgetary compliance, but also to ensure conceptual solutions that are economically viable in a life-time perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Research)
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Other

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessConcept Paper The Role of Analytical Frameworks for Systemic Research Design, Explained in the Analysis of Drivers and Dynamics of Historic Land-Use Changes
Systems 2017, 5(1), 20; doi:10.3390/systems5010020
Received: 14 January 2017 / Revised: 5 February 2017 / Accepted: 20 February 2017 / Published: 24 February 2017
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Abstract
Analytical frameworks provide the basic vocabulary of concepts and terms that may be used to construct the kinds of causal explanations expected of a theory. In addition, framework-based approaches are applied as a way of dealing with the complexity that arises in situations
[...] Read more.
Analytical frameworks provide the basic vocabulary of concepts and terms that may be used to construct the kinds of causal explanations expected of a theory. In addition, framework-based approaches are applied as a way of dealing with the complexity that arises in situations involving human interactions with the environment. This paper presents an example of an application of the “Analytical Framework for a Systemic Analysis of Drivers and Dynamics of Historical Land-Use Changes” with the purpose of showing the role of the selected analytical framework in the design of systemic research, namely as it is conceived and as it develops over time. This analytical framework helps to organize research by linking the theoretical questions to the empirical analysis, while serving as a platform for the construction of theoretical explanations, which represent the flow of knowledge in various contexts and conditions. In the context of systems research, the combination of an analytical framework with grounded theory approaches may allow researchers to achieve both creative thinking and novel outcomes, without losing a certain degree of coherence. We also hope to understand the real motives behind decision-making and dynamics of space and time in order to support the design of policies that take into account local differences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Research)
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