Inquiry into informing systems: critical systemic thinking in practice

Christine Welch, Peter Bednar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Any perceived human activity is, by definition, also a complex informing system. Human activity systems must continually adapt to their dynamic environments in order to survive. There is therefore a role for deutero-lerning through human sense-making and multiple levels of reflection in bringing this about. In this chapter, the authors suggest a need for an approach based in philosophy as practice, when considering the complexities of informing systems. Our discussion draws upon a variety of reference disciplines that have contributed to developing an epistemology of informing systems discourse. These include systems science, systems thinking and cybernetics (which we explore through the work of Gregory Bateson and C. West Churchman); biological systems (through the work of Maturana and Varela); philosophy (explored through the work of Gerard Radnitzky and Hans-Erik Nissen, as well as Gregory Bateson); and organizational behaviour (explored through the work of Borje Langefors, Chris Argyris and Karl Weick). We conclude by presenting two examples of hermeneutically-informed, phenomenological approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFoundations of informing science: 1999-2008
EditorsT. Gill, E. Cohen
Place of PublicationSanta Rosa, California
PublisherInforming Science Press
Number of pages52
ISBN (Print)9781932886153
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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