A Trusting Constructivist View of Systems Thinking in the Knowledge Age

  • Norma Romm


This paper explores the contribution that systems thinkers could be seen as making in the (co-called) “knowledge age”. In the knowledge age, people’s skills in finding ways of developing knowledge are often highly prized. My suggestion is that it is important that acts of “knowing” developed by those who define themselves as systems thinkers become recognized as themselves being potential points of intervention in the systems being studied. (See also Romm, 1990, Romm,1995, Romm,1998; Jackson, 1993, Jackson,2000; Midgley, 1996, Midgley, 2000; Jervis, 1997; Keys, 1997; and Banathy, 1999.) Intervention effects should be considered as a matter of concern already at the moment of “comprehension” (and not only at the moment of “application”). Already at the point of aiming to develop knowledge, our possible complicity in creating realities should be regarded as a relevant concern. This affects the way in which constructions offered are treated and assessed. In line with what I call a “trusting constructivist” approach (Romm, 2001), I suggest that instead of expecting that authors try to defend themselves on the basis of the likelihood that their constructions provide us with (more) informed understanding of some posited (externally existing) realities, we can award trust on different grounds. We can make judgments in regard to people’s accountability by considering the quality of their discursive engagements with a variety of visions and concerns that might be raised by others. This has implications for the way in which we understand the status of people’s knowing endeavors.


Trust Relationship Systemic Practice Critical System Thinking Constructivist Thinking System Thinker 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norma Romm
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Systems StudiesUniversity of Hull Business SchoolHullUK

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