Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science

2001 Edition
| Editors: Saul I. Gass, Carl M. Harris

Soft systems methodology

  • Peter Checkland
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-0611-X_971


Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) is an approach to tackling the kind of problematical situations with which managers of all kinds and at all levels have to deal in their professional lives. As its name implies, SSM is based upon systems ideas, and “a systems approach,” but not in the conventional sense in which those phrases are usually used. Normally those words imply taking parts of the real world to be systems, and improving the performance of those systems in meeting their declared objectives. This is the approach found, for example, in systems engineering, systems analysis and classical OR. SSM was developed in the 1970s and 80s in management situations in which objectives were themselves problematical and the engineering/optimizing of the approaches developed in the 1950s and 1960 could not be used unchanged. It is thus complementary to the earlier methods.

SSM was developed in a program of action research in the kinds of real-world situations which are often referred...

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Checkland
    • 1
  1. 1.Lancaster UniversityLancasterUnited Kingdom