Some Anomalies in Ulrich’s Critical Inquiry and Problem-Solving Approach

  • Norma Romm


This paper probes some of Ulrich’s assertions with respect to the relevance of a Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH) approach to critical inquiry and problem solving, and it draws out certain anomalies in the position. The concept of ‘anomaly’ as used here is derived from Gouldner (1980). It refers to internal contradictions in a theory (as located by a critic) or points to ‘information’ which represents bad news for the theory (which the theoretician may be inclined to resist). ‘Hostile information’ or bad news evokes (perceived) events or ideas not accounted for in the theory and not in keeping with its premises — hence generating an external anomaly. Gouldner argues that all theories can be considered critically by locating anomalies (both internally and externally derived ones), thus providing impetus for reconsideration of theoretical positions and their implications for relevant practice. In this paper, anomalies are posed in confrontation with the texts of Ulrich, as part of an effort to enter into dialogue with, and extend, the work.


Soft System Methodology Theoretical Claim Critical System Thinking Critical Heuristic Critical System Heuristic 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norma Romm
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Systems StudiesUniversity of HullHullUK

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