A Framework for Analysing SSM-Based Studies

  • A. Barnden
  • R. Smith
  • R. B. Watson


Many systems practitioners have undertaken studies which purport to be based on the Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) as described by Checkland(1981) and others. In accord with its methodological roots in action research, SSM encourages the involvement of the analyst in reflection on the conduct of the study as it proceeds. A characteristic and strength of SSM is that this reflection on the evolving study should lead to insights that can affect both the particular study and lead to improved future practice. In the present paper a prototype framework is reported which is appropriate to the task of analysing the methodological practice of study teams of which one was not necessarily a member, who have undertaken studies which claim a basis in SSM. The framework seeks to provide a structure and some heuristics for thinking critically about the ways in which a study has been undertaken. The framework seeks to facilitate identification of significant departures from presently documented SSM practice, so supporting debate on the extent to which such departures have been beneficial and might be incorporated in future practice. Initial application of the analysis framework to some studies conducted in Australia is presented in outline.


System Thinking Maturity Level Future Practice Soft System Methodology Research Cycle 
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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Barnden
    • 1
  • R. Smith
    • 2
  • R. B. Watson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Information SystemsMonash UniversityCaulfieldAustralia
  2. 2.School of Computer Science and Software EngineeringSwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia

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