Boundary critique: an approach for framing methodological design

Reynolds, Martin and Wilding, Helen (2017). Boundary critique: an approach for framing methodological design. In: de Savigny, Don; Blanchet, Karl and Adam, Taghreed eds. Applied Systems Thinking For Health Systems Research: A Methodological Handbook. Maidenhead: Open University Press, pp. 38–56.

URL: https://www.mheducation.co.uk/9780335261321-emea-a...

Abstract

The popularity of contemporary evidence-based practice (EBP) approaches in health care research have a long and well-documented history which tends to prioritise the factual world over the world of values. It comprises a conventional linear mechanistic understanding of ‘research’ informing ‘practice’; an understanding described elsewhere in the arena of public administration as the Received View. In the arena of health care, the importance of values is paramount; particularly in setting priorities of health systems research in low-income countries. An alternative approach to the Received View is what we might call a praxis-oriented approach. Here, the continual integral dynamic between research and practice is acknowledged, recognising also that research is essentially value-driven. Praxis can be described as practice-informed-theory and/or theory-informed-practice; or alternatively, ideas-in-action or thinking-in-practice. In praxis, the activities of research and practice are not seen as an either/or dualism, but regarded rather as a continual both/and duality. One significant expression of a praxis-oriented approach in the systems thinking tradition is Werner Ulrich’s notion of boundary critique; an ‘eternal triangle’ of interdependence between judgements of fact and value judgements, mediated through boundary judgements.

In this chapter, Section 1 describes boundary critique and a particular manifestation of it - the systems thinking in practice (STiP) heuristic - developed amongst systems practitioners at the UK-based Open University. STiP provides a framework for using multiple methods or techniques – systems-based or otherwise – through a sequence of activities involving (i) understanding inter-relationships, (ii) engaging with multiple perspectives, and (iii) reflecting on boundary judgements. Two sets of systems tools have been found particularly helpful in these activities, as experienced by the authors – tools associated with soft systems methodology (SSM) and critical systems heuristics (CSH). These are briefly outlined. Section 2 describes an application of the STiP heuristic in developing systems for health partnerships. Whilst the case study is situated in a UK context – specifically Newcastle upon Tyne, in North East of England, the wider context of enabling partnerships through the application of boundary critique is one that has universal relevance.

Viewing alternatives

Item Actions

Export

About

Recommendations