Theorising performative social affordances for collective action in problem structuring practice

Katharina Maria Burger, Leroy White, Mike Yearworth

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    This paper seeks to contribute to the understanding of in situ dynamics in problem structuring interventions. Specifically, it addresses the need to understand how soft OR methods facilitate thinking and problem solving (Hämäläinen et al., 2013) in multi-organisational working (Ackermann et al., 2014) (White, 2009). An in-depth study of two succeeding stakeholder group modelling workshops was undertaken to understand performative dimensions of mediational structures in scaffolded interactions. Evaluation questionnaires were administered in the workshops, providing insight into socio-cognitive processes. This was complemented by video recordings of the participants in situ to enable an analysis of socio-ecological interactions. In the data analysis, three contextualist learning theories were employed. The analysis demonstrates how the three theoretical lenses may be applied to empirical data to view intermediate outcomes of PSM practice as processes of appropriation, transformation and co-creation, the sharing of appropriable tools for thinking, recognising interdependence and scaffolding positive emotional valence of collaborating as well as self-evaluative learning. This suggests that the micro-processes of sense-making and mangling (White et al., 2015) in problem structuring interventions may be seen as contributing to the participants’ ability to create strategies in paradox (Clegg et al., 2002) through the dialectic resolutions of contradictions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2015
    Event27th European Conference on Operational Research (EURO 2015) - UK, Glasgow, United Kingdom
    Duration: 12 Jul 201515 Jul 2015


    Conference27th European Conference on Operational Research (EURO 2015)
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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