Thinking Inside the Box: Applying the Theory of Karma to Make Boundary Judgements in Systemic Interventions

Springer International Publishing
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Managing VUCA Through Integrative Self-Management: How to Cope with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity in Organizational Behavior, 2017, pp. 131 - 147
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Systems researchers often combine methodologies to carry out systemic interventions in a purposeful way. Midgley defines a systemic intervention as “purposeful action by an agent to create change in relation to reflection on boundaries”. It is therefore important when undertaking systemic interventions that researchers and practitioners engage in ‘boundary critique ’. This involves making judgements on inclusion, exclusion and marginalization of stakeholders, and on the issues relating to the intervention. Midgley argues that it is impossible for practitioners involved in systemic interventions to become neutral modelers or facilitators. They suggest that practitioners have to explicitly acknowledge these limitations and manage them while making decisions about system boundaries. Midgley et al. also recommend that a systems approach to an intervention should include exploration of stakeholder values and boundaries for analysis, challenge marginalization and use multi-methodologies. This chapter will explore—providing examples of issues faced during systemic interventions from the literature—how the Indian philosophical concept of karma (right action) could assist the ‘thinking inside the box’ that could assist systems researchers to make boundary judgements while carrying out systemic interventions ‘outside the box’.
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