The Concept of Contradiction in Soft Systems Practice — An Illustration

  • P. A. Nielsen


Basically, this chapter addresses the question of whether the explicit thinking in contradictions can be a useful supplement to Soft Systems Methodology (Checkland, 1981). The idea is by Mathiassen who examines system concepts and their implications and limitations (Mathiassen, 1987) by a comparison with the dialectics of Israel (1979). A more detailed version of the arguments in this chapter is given in Nielsen (1988).


System Developer Emergent Property Soft System Methodology Information System Development Root Definition 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Checkland, P. B., 1980, Primary task and issue-based root definitions, J. App. Sys. Anal., 7 : 51.Google Scholar
  2. Checkland, P. B., 1981, “Systems Thinking, Systems Practice”, Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  3. Checkland, P. B., 1980, Soft systems methodology as process: a reply to M. C. Jackson, J. App. Sys. Anal., 9 : 36.Google Scholar
  4. Israel, J., 1979, “The Language of Dialectics and the Dialectics of Language”, Munksgaard and Humanities Press and Harvester Press, Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  5. Jackson, M. C., 1982, The nature of “soft” systems thinking: the work of Churchman, Ackoff and Checkland, J. App. Sys. Anal., 9 : 17.Google Scholar
  6. Jackson, M. C., 1983, The nature of “soft” systems thinking: comments on the three replies, J. App. Sys. Anal., 10 : 109.Google Scholar
  7. Mathiassen, L., 1987, Systems, processes and structures, in: “Systems Design for Human Development and Productivity: Participation and Beyond”, P. Docherty, ed., North-Holland, Amsterdam: 49.Google Scholar
  8. Mingers, J., 1984, Subjectivism and soft systems methodology — a critique, J. App. Sys. Anal., 11 : 85.Google Scholar
  9. Nielsen, P. A., 1988, “The Emergence of Contradictions in Soft Systems Practice”, Report R-88-22, Institute of Electronic Systems, Aalborg University Centre, Denmark.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. A. Nielsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Electronic SystemsAalborg University CentreAalborgDenmark

Personalised recommendations