Advertisement

Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 71–96 | Cite as

Dealing with Human Relations in Chinese Systems Practice

  • Gerald Midgley
  • Jifa Gu
  • David Campbell
Article

Abstract

This paper is about the Wuli, Shili, Renli (WSR) systems methodology. An important concept within this, Renli, has been developed from Confucian philosophy to clarify to Chinese researchers the necessity of dealing with human relations in systems practice. At present, the only formal means of operationalizing Renli that people are exploring in China is to import from the West methods for organizing debate. However, the concept of Renli suggests that more is needed than methods alone. In particular, facilitation skills are required. It is argued that the development of facilitation skills can be enhanced if researchers can gain both theoretical and practical knowledge of group dynamics, and engage in activities of self-reflection to look at, and alter, their own roles in these dynamics and the wider sociopolitical system. There are therefore three aspects to Renli: the use of systems methods for organizing debate, the acquisition of facilitation skills, and self-reflection geared toward the development of facilitation skills and enhanced critical awareness of the politics of intervention.

China culture WSR Wuli Shili Renli systems thinking systems methodology debate facilitation group dynamics self-reflection critical self-reflection critical systems thinking problem structuring methods Three Gorge Dam systems engineering 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ackoff, R. L. (1981). Creating the Corporate Future, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Belsey, C. (1980). Critical Practice, Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  3. Bion, W. R. (1961). Experiences in Groups, Tavistock, London.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, M. (1996). A framework for assessing participation. In Flood R. L., and Romm, N. R. A. (eds.), Critical Systems Thinking: Current Research and Practice, Plenum, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Campbell, D., Draper, R., and Huffington, C. (1991). Second Thoughts on the Theory and Practice of the Milan Approach to Family Therapy, Karnac Books, London.Google Scholar
  6. Campbell, D., Coldicott, T., and Kinsella, K. (1994). Systemic Work with Organizations, Karnac Books, London.Google Scholar
  7. Checkland, P. (1981). Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  8. Checkland, P. (1993). Review of “Practical Soft Systems Analysis” by D. Patching. Syst. Pract. 6, 435–438.Google Scholar
  9. Checkland, P., and Scholes, J. (1990). Soft Systems Methodology in Action, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  10. Churchman, C. W. (1979). The Systems Approach and Its Enemies, Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, C., and Midgley, G. (1994). The North Humberside Diversion from Custody Project for Mentally Disordered Offenders: Research Report, Centre for Systems Studies, Hull.Google Scholar
  12. Doehrman, M. (1976). Parallel processes in supervision and psychotherapy. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, USA, 40, pt 1.Google Scholar
  13. Eden, C., Jones, S., and Sims, D. (1983). Messing About in Problems, Pergamon, Oxford.Google Scholar
  14. Erickson, E. (1950). Childhood and Society, Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Flood, R. L. (1995). Solving Problem Solving, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  16. Flood, R. L., and Jackson, M. C. (1991a). Critical Systems Thinking: Directed Readings, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  17. Flood, R. L., and Jackson, M. C. (1991b). Creative Problem Solving: Total Systems Intervention, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  18. Flood, R. L., and Romm, N. R. A. (eds) (1996a). Critical Systems Thinking: Current Research and Practice, Plenum, New York.Google Scholar
  19. Flood, R. L., and Romm, N. R. A. (1996b). Diversity Management: Triple Loop Learning, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  20. Foucault, M. (1980). Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, Pantheon, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Garmezy, N. (1993). Children in poverty: Resilience despite risk. Psychiatry 56, 127–136.Google Scholar
  22. Gergen, K., and Gergen, M. (1983). Narratives of the self. In Sabin, T., and Scheibe, K. (eds.), Narrative Psychology: The Storied Nature of Human Conduct, Praeger, New York.Google Scholar
  23. Gregory, W. J. (1992). Critical Systems Thinking and Pluralism: A New Constellation, Ph.D. thesis, City University, London.Google Scholar
  24. Gregory, W. J., and Romm, N. R. A. (1994). Towards multi-agency dialogue: Facilitation as fair education. In W. Gasparski (ed.), Social Agency: Dilemmas and Education, Part Two: Education, Praxiology, Vol. 4, Transaction, Brunswick, NJ.Google Scholar
  25. Gregory, W. J., Romm, N. R. A., and Walsh, M. P. (1994). The Trent Quality Initiative: A Multi-Agency Evaluation of Quality Standards in the National Health Service, Centre for Systems Studies, Hull.Google Scholar
  26. Gu, J., and Tang, X. (1995). W-S-R systems approach to a water resources management decision support system. In Midgley, G. and Wilby, J. (eds.), Systems Methodology: Possibilities for Cross-Cultural Learning and Integration, Centre for Systems Studies, Hull.Google Scholar
  27. Gu, J., and Tang, X. (2000). Designing a water resources management decision support system: An application of the WSR approach. Syst. Pract. Act. Res. 13, 59–70.Google Scholar
  28. Gu, J., and Zhu, Z. (1995). The Wu-li Shi-li Ren-li approach (WSR): An Oriental systems methodology. In Midgley, G. and Wilby, J. (eds.), Systems Methodology: Possibilities for Cross-Cultural Learning and Integration, Centre for Systems Studies, Hull.Google Scholar
  29. Gu, J., and Zhu, Z. (2000). Knowing Wuli, sensing Shili, caring for Renli: Methodology of the WSR approach. Syst. Pract. Act. Res. 13, 11–20.Google Scholar
  30. Habermas, J. (1976). Communication and the Evolution of Society (English ed., 1979), Heinemann, London.Google Scholar
  31. Hall, A. D. (1962). A Methodology for Systems Engineering, Van Nostrand, Princeton, NJ.Google Scholar
  32. Ho, C. H. (1997). A Critical Process for the Evaluation of Methodology, Ph.D. thesis, University of Hull, Hull.Google Scholar
  33. Hoyt, M. (ed.) (1994). Constructive Therapies, Guilford Press, London.Google Scholar
  34. Ivanov, K. (1991). Critical systems thinking and information technology. J. Appl. Syst. Anal. 18, 39–55.Google Scholar
  35. Jackson, M. C. (1982). The nature of soft systems thinking: The work of Churchman, Ackoff and Checkland. J. Appl. Syst. Anal. 9, 17–29.Google Scholar
  36. Jackson, M. C. (1985). The itinerary of a critical approach: Review of Ulrich's “Critical Heuristics of Social Planning.” J. Operat. Res. Soc. 36, 878–881.Google Scholar
  37. Jackson, M. C. (1987). New directions in management science. In Jackson, M. C., and Keys, P. (eds.), New Directions in Management Science, Gower, Aldershot.Google Scholar
  38. Jackson, M. C. (1989). Assumptional analysis: An elucidation and appraisal for systems practitioners. Syst. Pract. 2, 11–28.Google Scholar
  39. Jackson, M. C., and Keys, P. (1984). Towards a system of systems methodologies. J. Operat. Res. Soc. 35, 473–486.Google Scholar
  40. Kilmann, R. H. (1983). A dialectical approach to formulating and testing social science theories: Assumptional analysis. Hum. Relat. 36, 1–22.Google Scholar
  41. Li, X., and Zheng, H. (1995). Study on general systems methodology. In Midgley, G., and Wilby, J. (eds.), Systems Methodology: Possibilities for Cross-Cultural Learning and Integration, Centre for Systems Studies, Hull.Google Scholar
  42. Mason, R. O. (1969). A dialectical approach to strategic planning. Manage. Sci. 15, B403–B414.Google Scholar
  43. Mason, R. O., and Mitroff, I. I. (1981). Challenging Strategic Planning Assumptions, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  44. Maturana, H. R., and Varela, F. J. (1992). The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding, rev. ed., Shambhala, Boston.Google Scholar
  45. Menzies-Lyth, I. (1988). Containing Anxiety in Institutions, Free Association, London.Google Scholar
  46. Midgley, G. (1992a). Pluralism and the legitimation of systems science. Syst. Pract. 5, 147–172.Google Scholar
  47. Midgley, G. (1992b). The sacred and profane in critical systems thinking. Syst. Pract. 5, 5–16.Google Scholar
  48. Midgley, G. (1996). What is this thing called critical systems thinking? In Flood, R. L., and Romm, N. R. A. (eds.), Critical Systems Thinking: Current Research and Practice, Plenum, New York.Google Scholar
  49. Midgley, G. (1997a). Mixing methods: Developing systemic intervention. In Mingers, J., and Gill, A. (eds.), Multimethodology: The Theory and Practice of Combining Management Science Methodologies, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  50. Midgley. G. (1997b). Dealing with coercion: Critical systems heuristics and beyond. Syst. Pract. 10, 37–57.Google Scholar
  51. Midgley, G., and Milne, A. (1995). Creating employment opportunities for people with mental health problems: A feasibility study for new initiatives. J. Operat. Res. Soc. 46, 35–42.Google Scholar
  52. Midgley, G., Munlo, I., and Brown, M. (1997). Sharing Power: Integrating User Involvement and Multi-Agency Working to Improve Housing for Older People, Policy Press, Bristol.Google Scholar
  53. Midgley, G., Munlo, I., and Brown, M. (1998). The theory and practice of boundary critique: Developing housing services for older people. J. Operat. Res. Soc. 49, 467–478.Google Scholar
  54. Mingers, J. (1984). Subjectivism and soft systems methodology—a critique. Journal of Applied Systems Analysis, 11, 85–103.Google Scholar
  55. Mingers, J., and Gill, A. (eds.) (1997). Multimethodology: The Theory and Practice of Combining Management Science Methodologies, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  56. Mitroff, I. I., and Emshoff, J. R. (1979). On strategic assumption-making: A dialectical approach to policy and planning. Acad. Manage. Rev. 6, 649–651.Google Scholar
  57. Mitroff, I. I., Emshoff, J. R., and Kilmann, R. H. (1979). Assumptional analysis: A methodology for strategic problem-solving. Manage. Sci. 25, 583–593.Google Scholar
  58. Munro, I. (1999). Man-machine systems: People and technology in OR. Syst. Pract. Act. Res., 12(5), 513–532.Google Scholar
  59. Qian, X., Yu, J., and Dai, R. (1993). A new discipline of science: The study of open complex giant system and its methodology. Chinese J. Syst. Eng. Electron. 4, 2–12.Google Scholar
  60. Reynolds, M. (1998). Reflection and critical reflection in management learning. Manage. Learn. 29, 183–200.Google Scholar
  61. Romm, N. R. A. (1995). Some anomalies in Ulrich's critical inquiry and problem-solving approach. In. Ellis, K., Gregory, A., Mears-Young, B., and Ragsdell, G. (eds.), Critical Issues in Systems Theory and Practice, Plenum, New York.Google Scholar
  62. Rosenhead, J. (ed.) (1989). Rational Analysis for a Problematic World, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  63. Rutter, M. (1987). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 57, 316–331.Google Scholar
  64. Selvini-Palazzoli, M., Cecchin, G., Prata, G., and Boscolo, L. (1978). Paradox and Counterparadox, Jason Aronson, New York.Google Scholar
  65. Ulrich, W. (1983). Critical Heuristics of Social Planning: A New Approach to Practical Philosophy, Haupt, Berne.Google Scholar
  66. Ulrich, W. (1986). Critical Heuristics of Social Systems Design, Working Paper No. 10, Department of Management Systems and Sciences, University of Hull, Hull.Google Scholar
  67. Ulrich, W. (1996). A Primer to Critical Systems Heuristics for Action Researchers, Centre for Systems Studies, Hull.Google Scholar
  68. von Foerster, H. (1973). Cybernetics of cybernetics (physiology of revolution). The Cybernetician, 3, 30–32.Google Scholar
  69. Walsh, F. (1996). The concept of family resilience: Crisis and challenge. Family Process 35, 261–281.Google Scholar
  70. White, M., and Epston, D. (1990). Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends, Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  71. Willi, J., Frei, R., and Limacher, B. (1993). Couples therapy using the technique of construct differentiation. Family Process 32, 311–321.Google Scholar
  72. Willmott, H. (1989). OR as a problem situation: From Soft Systems Methodology to critical science. In Jackson, M. C., Keys, P., and Cropper, S. A. (eds.), OR and the Social Sciences, Plenum, New York.Google Scholar
  73. Zhu, Z. (2000). Dealing with a differentiated whole: The philosophy of the WSR approach. Syst. Pract. Act. Res. 13, 21–57.Google Scholar
  74. Zich, A. (1997). China's three gorges: Before the flood. National Geographic, 192(3), 2–33.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald Midgley
    • 1
  • Jifa Gu
    • 2
  • David Campbell
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Systems Studies, Business SchoolUniversity of HullHullUK
  2. 2.School of Knowledge ScienceJapan Advanced Institute of Science and TechnologyIshikawaJapan
  3. 3.The Tavistock ClinicLondonUK

Personalised recommendations