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Peer-Review Record

Do Design Science Research and Design Thinking Processes Improve the ‘Fit’ of the Fit-For-Purpose Approach to Securing Land Tenure for All in South Africa?

Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Kwabena Asiama
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Received: 23 March 2021 / Revised: 18 April 2021 / Accepted: 29 April 2021 / Published: 4 May 2021

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

The manuscript deals with the issue which is very relevant in land administration in South Africa. It needs some improvement, with respect to the following comments:

  1. Reduce the number of key words
  2. Check the writing in order to fix minor language issues: lines 75 ….. recordal of landholding !! I wonder whether you mean the recordation of land rights

Some words are missing at the end of the Line 78

  1. Check the referencing error indicated in line 497
  2. A repetition of some concepts or words on one sentence or sentence which are close to each other should be avoided. Example: a combined approach ,….. lines 361 and 363
  3. There are issues of word choice: what is the meaning of land tenure delivery at line 385? Authors have to go through the whole paper and cross-check if they used the suitable words. The non-use of the appropriate words makes hard the reading of the paper
  4. It is not appropriate to consecutively place table 3 and Figure 3 without a text explain each of them. In addition, nothing is said about Figure 3.
  5. The placement of tables, like Table 4, Table 5, table 6, table 7, etc after the heading without a short text introducing each table is not appropriate.

In the conclusion, the authors should clearly state and highlight how the suggested system design has potential to improve the land administration in South Africa, and whether it can be adopted in other countries.

Author Response

The title is amended to read: Do design science research and design thinking processes improve the ‘fit’ of the fit-for-purpose approach to securing land tenure for all in South Africa?

Reviewer 1 Actions by authors
Reduce the number of key words land rights, land reform are merged to read land rights and tenure
customary tenure and land tenure security are removed
restorative justice is removed
Check the writing in order to fix minor language issues: lines 75 ….. recordal of landholding !! I wonder whether you mean the recordation of land rights recordal of landholding changed to read recordation of rights and interests in land
Some words are missing at the end of the Line 78 I cannot find any missing words
Check the referencing error indicated in line 497 Corrected to Figure 3
A repetition of some concepts or words on one sentence or sentence which are close to each other should be avoided. Example: a combined approach ,….. lines 361 and 363 This replaces the repeat of A combined approach. Other repetitions have been identified and attended to.
There are issues of word choice: what is the meaning of land tenure delivery at line 385? Authors have to go through the whole paper and cross-check if they used the suitable words. The non-use of the appropriate words makes hard the reading of the paper Replaced with delivering secure land tenure to all. Other unusual words/phrases have been identified and amended.
It is not appropriate to consecutively place table 3 and Figure 3 without a text explain each of them. In addition, nothing is said about Figure 3. Figure 2 and associated text are moved to section 2.7 on the coding exercise. Figure 3 is refered to in the paragraph just before the illustration as well as in section 3.3.2. second paragraph.
The placement of tables, like Table 4, Table 5, table 6, table 7, etc after the heading without a short text introducing each table is not appropriate. A sentence or a paragraph introducing the table now appears between the heading and each table.
In the conclusion (CAN be improved): the authors should clearly state and highlight how the suggested system design has potential to improve the land administration in South Africa, and whether it can be adopted in other countries The conclusions have been amended to be more explicit about the contributions to South African land administration reform as well as how these can be generalized to other contexts.

Thank you for your time. Please see the attached file with track changes.

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 2 Report

The paper deals with a very important subject matter in the Global South that is very much worth investigating, the improvement of the fit for purpose approaches. It is recommended that the authors make some revisions in the manuscript to make it worth publishing.

Though clear to some extent in the title, the authors do not make the objective of the paper explicit in the manuscript. The aim of the paper should be clarified and clearly stated in the manuscript.

The authors do not discuss the results. Granted that the results are generated from literature, it is still quite important to place the work in a larger field of FFP LA. In this regard, the authors started the work by pointing out in the title that the focus of the work is on the aspect of “fit”. However, though this is fine, the “fit” in FFP, does not work without the purpose. There should however be a discussion of the implication that this study done on the “fit”, have on the “purpose”, or on the goals of land administration.

The should also be a discussion on what implications that this study have on other FFP approaches in other parts of the world, and more importantly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Author Response

The title of the paper is amended to read: Do design science research and design thinking processes improve the ‘fit’ of the fit-for-purpose approach to securing land tenure for all in South Africa?

Reviewer 2 Actions by authors
Objectives:make the objective of the paper explicit in the manuscript. The aim of the paper should be clarified and clearly stated in the manuscript. Foregrounding DST and DT within FFP-LA is now included in the abstract. Towards the end of the introduction this text is added: FFP LA is intended to include processes that lead to deep understanding of problem situations and needs, and to design solutions to meet these. FFP LA seeks to “understand the social, cultural, legal and institutional dynamics of their own Communities”[13], but achieving this at all scales and for all role-players, particularly in complex contexts is challenging. The approach focusing on the spatial, legal and institutional framework of FFP-LA may lead to false assumptions of hegemony and lack of contest between needs within an area or state. Behavioral science and a human-centered approaches have a different point of entry and focus. Foregrounded in the FFP LA approach, their strengths may be useful to address South African land challenges that endure even after more than two decades of change – deep understanding and creative approaches are required. 
Results: discuss the results. Granted that the results are generated from literature, it is still quite important to place the work in a larger field of FFP LA. In this regard, the authors started the work by pointing out in the title that the focus of the work is on the aspect of “fit”. However, though this is fine, the “fit” in FFP, does not work without the purpose. There should however be a discussion of the implication that this study done on the “fit”, have on the “purpose”, or on the goals of land administration. This text is added in section 1: It may be noted that the authors do not separate ‘fit’ from ‘purpose’. Purpose may stand alone, and the purpose of LAS reform is discernible from the reviewed literature: in South Africa, the general purpose is to address land tenure insecurity. This problem situation demands creative solutions developed from a deep understanding of complexity in context. The method/approach adopted should fit this purpose. In this paper, we argue that the method/approach can benefit from foregrounding DSR-BS and DT into an FFP approach. This would lead to a better ‘fit’ of the method/approach to the purpose.
Conclusions (MUST be improved): discussion on what implications that this study have on other FFP approaches in other parts of the world, and more importantly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The conclusions have been amended to be more explicit about the contributions to South African land administration reform as well as how these can be generalized to other contexts.

Thank you for your time

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 3 Report

This manuscript is an interesting one. It presents a backwards-looking perspective of fit-for-purpose land administrative reform processes in a South African context (framed around design research and thinking). This makes it, to my understanding, a highly conceptual study dealing with a highly empirical issue. This appears to be a rigorously done study, but I sensed some struggles that readers may encounter in its comprehension. Below is my feedback on critical areas of the manuscript.

To my understanding, the FFP-LA as a concept is already based on design thinking. Why is the author presenting it as a far-removed concept from design research/thinking (DRT) and one that needs to be linked? The idea is based on people-centred, iterative, and flexible application. That leaves readers confused as to why the argumentation presented gives the impression of FFP-LA as being isolated from DRT. FFP-LA is also unarguably a behavioural science issue based on human actions, human geography, and the sociology of creating changes through land administration interventions. I did not quite pick a fundamental argument against these to justify why the author chose to prove or argue for it. As this argument surrounds this study's core thesis, the author must clear this up.

I did not quite grasp the logic behind the insertion of sections 2.1-2.4 within the methodology. From reading those sections for form the theoretical/conceptual framing of the study and would have stood out if labelled as such and put in the pre-methodology section of the manuscript (e.g., as section 2 or a standalone post-introduction section). This way, its weight is felt in the structure and argumentation of the entire study.

Methodology: the study seems rather rigorously done but leaves a lot of rooms for clarity. It is based on secondary data (entirely literature). The author describes using FFP-related terms as keywords for the search but does not mention or state them. What was the search engine used? What hits (results) were returned? How are others supposed to replicate the procedure? How did the author arrive at a list of 36 pieces of literature used and presented in the appendix – exclusion and assimilation strategy? What was the use of Nvivo meant for in this study? These are methodological questions that were either left unanswered or not convincing.

The result section justifies the ground for considering FFP-LA as a design thinking and behavioural science concern in the land sector. However, the link to South African land reform is not easily decipherable.

Other issues: See "Error! Reference source not found" in line 496.

Author Response

The title of the paper has been amended to read Do design science research and design thinking processes improve the ‘fit’ of the fit-for-purpose approach to securing land tenure for all in South Africa?

Reviewer 3 Actions by authors
 "Error! Reference source not found" in line 496. Corrected to Figure 3
Introduction (CAN be improved): To my understanding, the FFP-LA as a concept is already based on design thinking. Why is the author presenting it as a far-removed concept from design research/thinking (DRT) and one that needs to be linked? The idea is based on people-centred, iterative, and flexible application. That leaves readers confused as to why the argumentation presented gives the impression of FFP-LA as being isolated from DRT. FFP-LA is also unarguably a behavioral science issue based on human actions, human geography, and the sociology of creating changes through land administration interventions. I did not quite pick a fundamental argument against these to justify why the author chose to prove or argue for it. As this argument surrounds this study's core thesis, the author must clear this up. Foregrounding DST and DT within FFP-LA is now included in the abstract. Towards the end of the introduction this text is added: FFP LA is intended to include processes that lead to deep understanding of problem situations and needs, and to design solutions to meet these. FFP LA seeks to “understand the social, cultural, legal and institutional dynamics of their own Communities”[13], but achieving this at all scales and for all role-players, particularly in complex contexts is challenging. The approach focusing on the spatial, legal and institutional framework of FFP-LA may lead to false assumptions of homogeneity and lack of contest between needs within an area or state. Behavioral science and a human-centered approaches have a different point of entry and focus. Paired with the FFP LA approach, their strengths may be useful to address South African land challenges that endure even after more than two decades of change – deep understanding and creative approaches are required.
Throughout the paper, the wording is amended to acknowledge the position of FFP and to indicate that both DSR-BS and DT offer complimentary processes and emphases.
Methodology (CAN be improved):  logic behind the insertion of sections 2.1-2.4 within the methodology. From reading those sections for form the theoretical/conceptual framing of the study and would have stood out if labelled as such and put in the pre-methodology section of the manuscript (e.g., as section 2 or a standalone post-introduction section). This way, its weight is felt in the structure and argumentation of the entire study. The standard layout of the Land manuscript does not have a theory heading and so this was not used initially.  We have added the heading Theory now and moved the theoretical aspects there.
the study seems rather rigorously done but leaves a lot of rooms for clarity. It is based on secondary data (entirely literature). The author describes using FFP-related terms as keywords for the search but does not mention or state them. What was the search engine used? What hits (results) were returned? How are others supposed to replicate the procedure? How did the author arrive at a list of 36 pieces of literature used and presented in the appendix – exclusion and assimilation strategy? What was the use of Nvivo meant for in this study? These are methodological questions that were either left unanswered or not convincing. Detail as to the key words used, search engines and sites, and the data collection strategy is included in section 3.2: The strategy used to identify the sources was as follows:
1. Various combinations of keywords were used: FFP LA, FFP, fit-for-purpose, land administration, land reform, South Africa, Africa.
2. Literature that included FFP case studies, high-level critiques of the FFP approach, and papers that assess and critique the FFP approach in detail were included. Literature focusing on technical interventions was not included.
3. Online search engines used: Google Scholar, Google, Researchgate, FIG website.
4. University of Cape Town library databases – these include EBSCOhost, Elsevier, Emerald, HeinOnline, Springer, Taylor and Francis, Thomson Reuters.
5. Books and chapters that investigate, explain or critique land reform processes in sub-Saharan and particularly South Africa are included. Many of these are known to the authors or would have appeared on Researchgate and other searched sites as well as UCT libraries. A search of Google Books was used for completeness.
6. National land policies and high-level country analyses provide rich data – these are well-known to practitioners and researchers in South Africa.

A list of the 36 sources and coding data is presented in the Appendix. Saturation sampling logic was used – the sources are not intended to be inclusive, but representative. Sufficent sources have been included such that additional sources are not likely to cause data divergence or change the research outcomes.

More detail on the use of Nvivo is provided in section 3.3:
The source texts were imported into NVivo version 12 and categorized as non-South African and South African. Each source was then read through, coding text that relates to the thematic framework in Table 3 as illustrated by the concept map in Figure 2. The coding process involves selecting text in NVivo and associating that text with one or more elements in the thematic framework – these are called codes. Each theme and its associated coded text were then extracted using the export functions of NVivo. The result is a set of documents, each one containing the selected source texts that relate to that code.
Results: justifies the ground for considering FFP-LA as a design thinking and behavioral science concern in the land sector. However, the link to South African land reform is not easily decipherable. In the results are countless references to the SA literature on land reform. Some additional text has been added to highlight those that are South African so as to link the results to the South African land administration reform context.

Thank you for your time

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Round 2

Reviewer 2 Report

The comments raised in the first draft of the manuscript have been adequately addressed, and the paper has been adequately revised.

Reviewer 3 Report

Having gone through the revised version of this manuscript and the response from the authors, I consider this article publishable in current form pending minor issues that can be teased out during authors' proofing.

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