Social and Ecological Responsibility: A Critical Systemic Perspective

Reynolds, Martin (2003). Social and Ecological Responsibility: A Critical Systemic Perspective. In: Critical Management Studies Conference 'Critique and Inclusively: Opening the Agenda'; in the stream OR/Systems Thinking for Social Improvement, 7-9 Jul 2003, Lancaster University, UK.



The notion of systemic thinking for social and ecological responsibility is deconstructed and its holistic potential examined from a critical systemic perspective informed by the ideas of the systems philosopher, C. West-Churchman. Systemic thinking involves being critically aware of the boundaries in which we work and the boundaries to which we apply our expertise. It involves making boundary judgements
based on appropriate practical and theoretical interaction resulting in action which, it is argued, serves an explicit emancipatory potential. Social and ecological factors are considered as those components lying outside the boundaries of the system of interest and therefore outside the control of those, including systems practitioners, involved in the system of interest. Response-ability relates to how well a system of interest
responds to its environment of social and ecological factors. The potential value and dilemma of 'systemic thinking for social and ecological responsibility' is captured in Churchman's discomforting call for systems practitioners to perpetually be open to and invite 'enemies'.

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