The contribution of soft systems methodology to the achievement of change in organisational culture
Pattison, Elizabeth Mary (1995) The contribution of soft systems methodology to the achievement of change in organisational culture. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1399527~S1
This PhD was motivated by the perceived need to assist organisations to be more
successful in achieving change in organisational culture. Soft Systems Methodology
(S SM) was chosen as the framework for the study because of the researcher's ten years'
experience with the approach, and the wealth of literature suggesting its appropriateness
for organisational change projects (eg Checkland 1981, Checkland & Scholes 1990).
The aim was to achieve a deeper understanding of how SSM can assist cultural change
and what other factors are important. Both literature and practice indicate that the
participants' views of what happens in an SSM project are vital, since they will be
charged with implementing the change, and yet this viewpoint was not represented in the
literature of SSM. This research presents the participant perspective.
Action research was chosen and two in-depth case studies were carried out. Interviews
with other experienced SSM researchers/consultants augmented the data gathered via the
The major contribution of the research was to extent the theoiy of SSM and
organisational culture by:
• The conclusion that SSM can contribute to cultural change in organisations, where
cultural change is understood to involve a change in roles, norms or values relating to
the primary purpose of the organisation (ie in SSM terms - a change in
Weltanschauungen). This view was validated by the sponsor and participants of the
case studies, and tested in real business consultancy projects.
• The identification and ranking of what factors had contributed to this changed
Weltanschauungen, from the perspective of the sponsor and participants.
Considerations impacting on the general applicability of the research findings were
identified and explored, ie an organisation's degree of receptiveness to cultural change,
the role of the facilitator, and the way SSM is applied.
In addition the research:
• Tested the use of a mix of Mode 1 and 2 of SSM.
• Highlighted that SSM project facilitators and clients tend to select each other based
on trust and shared values. This can lead to the SSM project reinforcing the client's
• Tested an inter-linked group of techniques introduced by the researcher to strengthen
the participative approach to using SSM.
While acknowledging the limitations of action research and surveys, as well as the
researcher's bias, it is considered that in organisations which display a general
receptiveness to cultural change, the approach used in the case studies, and the SSM
learning described, should prove useful in assisting the process of cultural change.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Organizational change -- Methodology, Organizational change -- Case studies, Corporate culture|
|Official Date:||May 1995|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Warwick Business School|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Galliers, Robert, 1947-|
|Extent:||vi, 364 leaves|
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