Werner Ulrich

  • Magnus Ramage
  • Karen Shipp

Werner Ulrich has carried out pioneering work on a critical approach to systems thinking for over 25 years. Most importantly, he has developed a highly important and useful method for applying this approach, Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH). He has carried out his work in both academia and in government, and applied his ideas to issues as diverse as public planning, evaluation, reflective practice, the concept of citizenship and civil society, and environmental discourse. While acknowledging a “personal bias towards a more philosophically based, critical kind of systems thinking” (Ulrich 2005a, p. 8), his work is deeply practical. His goal may perhaps be summed up by the title of one of his articles: “systems thinking as if people mattered” (Ulrich 1998).


Reference System Reflective Practice Boundary Critique Critical System Thinking Critical Heuristic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Churchman, C.W. (1970). Kant – A decision theorist? Theory and Decision, 1(1), 107–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Jackson, M. C. (2003). Systems thinking: Creative holism for managers. Chichester: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  3. Ulrich, W. (1983). Critical heuristics of social planning: A new approach to practical philosophy. Bern, Switzerland: Haupt.Google Scholar
  4. Ulrich, W. (1987). Critical heuristics of social systems design. European Journal of Operational Research, 31(3), 276–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ulrich, W. (1998). Systems thinking as if people mattered: Critical systems thinking for citizens and managers. Working Paper 23, Lincoln School of Management, University of Lincoln, UK.Google Scholar
  6. Ulrich, W. (2000). Reflective practice in the civil society: The contribution of critically systemic thinking. Reflective Practice, 1(2), 247–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ulrich, W. (2002a). A short professional biography of Werner Ulrich. Accessed 13 Jan 2009.
  8. Ulrich, W. (2002b). Critical systems heuristics. In H. G. Daellenbach, & R. L. Flood (Eds.), The informed student guide to management science (pp. 72–73). London: Thomson Learning.Google Scholar
  9. Ulrich, W. (2003). Beyond methodology choice: Critical systems thinking as critically systemic discourse. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 54(4), 325–342.MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  10. Ulrich, W. (2004). In memory of C. West Churchman (1913–2004): Reminiscences, retrospectives, and reflections. Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change, 1(2–3), 199–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ulrich, W. (2005a). Can nature teach us good research practice? A critical look at Frederic Vester's Bio-Cybernetic Systems Approach. Journal of Research Practice 1(1), article R2. Accessed 13 Jan 2009.
  12. Ulrich, W. (2005b). A brief introduction to Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH). ECOSENSUS project, The Open University. Accessed 13 Jan 2009.

Copyright information

© of Springer Science+Business Media 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Magnus Ramage
    • 1
  • Karen Shipp
    • 1
  1. 1.The Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

Personalised recommendations