Analysis and Evaluation of SSM and ETHICS Methodologies and Creation of a New Methodology – Term Paper Example

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing

The paper " Analysis and Evaluation of SSM and ETHICS Methodologies and Creation of a New Methodology" is an excellent example of a term paper on information technology. Checkland’ s Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) (e. g. Checkland 1990) unequivocally engages users in system development. His illustrations purposely evade investigative methods, considering and perceiving human perspectives of the problem. SSM may not be termed as a progressive approach, although it has been integrated into the Multiview method by Avison in 1990. According to the Multiview method, it pays creditable awareness to attain viewpoints from various stakeholders before building system models.

SSM puts stress on ‘ participative design’ based on Enid Mumford’ s pioneering ETHICS method (Mumford 1985, 1996), not only connecting users but also highlighting their needs. Mumford’ s work is always humane, quite aloof from the traditional focal point on technology. SSM has affectively changed the approaches to many other methods. Information systems development methodologies have been the subject of much attention over the years. A substantial body of research has focused on the need to develop methodologies that support viewing information systems as social constructs, and information systems development (ISD) as a social process.

But if development is a social process, what principles/ideals should inform it? Recent research has called for "emancipatory" ideals to be included. This debate can be expanded to explore not only what emancipatory principles might be applied in information systems development, but also how. Existing ISD methodologies only partially embrace emancipatory principles. ETHICS ETHICS methodology was innovated by Enid Mumford at Manchester University and may be termed as a ‘ socio-technical’ view of system analysis and creation. Mumford (1983) narrates this view as “ the interaction of technology and people” .

It pioneers viewing and analyzing system designs and problems in a different way to other methodologies. As the acronym for this methodology would connote, ETHICS tries to take an ethical stand on systems by involving users and appreciating their working conditions and job satisfaction. The main idea behind this approach is that by utilizing users of the current system and obtaining their knowledge of its possible faults or areas of improvement, it can enhance the output from a design team and increase the likeliness of end-users using a new system without resistance as they played a part in its construction. ETHICS--seems the most likely candidate to be extended or "reformulated " to achieve emancipatory ideals more comprehensively.

Organizations using this reformulated version of ETHICS should make some progress advancing emancipation while at the same time confronting limited resources and the presence of power and authority. In order to encourage participation and overcome practical obstacles to its implementation, ETHICS notes four key aspects of participation: structure, content, process, and obstacles. The structure of participation is concerned with different forms of its realization, from political institutionalization via pressure groups to enlightened management policy.

Both direct and indirect forms of participation need to be considered in complex organizations. The issue of “ token-participation” or its misuse for manipulative purposes along with a number of typical obstacles is also recognized (Mumford, 1984). The content of participation involves the consideration of the decision boundaries for participation, i.e. what subjects are to be decided participatively. This includes the complete systems development life cycle (SDLC) from initiation and problem formulation to the evaluation of a working system.

Under the process of participation, integrity issues are considered. One of these involves knowledge acquisition and learning "so that decisions are taken from an informed position" (Mumford, 1983, p. 26).


Anil B. Jambekar,(1995)," Systems thinking, personal quality, and learning", Executive Development, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 37-40, USA.

Avison, D., Kendall, J., and DeGross, J. (eds.) Human, Organizational, and Social Dimensions of Information Systems Development, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1993.

Avison, J. Kendall and J. DeGross (eds.), Human, Organizational and Social Dimensions of Information Systems Development, D. North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1993, pp. 263-280.

Bernard Marr, Gianni Schiuma and Andy Neely,(2004), "Intellectual capital - defining key performance indicators for organizational knowledge assets" Business Process Management Journal Vol. 10 No. 5, pp. 551-569, UK

Bernard Marr, Oliver Gupta, Stephen Pike and Go; Egrave; ran Roos, (2003), "Intellectual capital and knowledge management Effectiveness", management Decision771-781, UK.

Bodker, S., Ehn, P., Kammersgaard, J., Kyng, M., and Sundblad, Y. "A UTOPIAN Experience: on Design of Powerful Computer-Based Tools for Skilled Graphic Workers," in Computers and Democracy: A Scandinavian Challenge, G. Bjerknes, P. Ehn, and M. Kyng (eds.), Avebury, Aldershot, United Kingdom, 1987, pp. 251-278.

Burrell, G. and Morgan, G. Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis, Heinemann, London, 1979.

Checkland, P. and Scholes, J. Soft Systems Methodology in Action, J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, United Kingdom, 1990.

Checkland, P. Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, United Kingdom, 1981.

Churchman, C.W. (1970), ``Operations research as a profession'', Management Science, Vol. 17 No. 2,

Churchman, C.W. (1971), "The Design of Inquiring Systems", Basic Books, New York.

Davis, L. "Job Satisfaction Research: The Post-Industrial View, " in Design of Jobs, L. Davis and J. Taylor (eds.), Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, United Kingdom, 1982, pp. 154-176.

E. Mumford, R. Hirschheim, G. Fitzgerald, and T. Wood-Harper (eds.) Research Methods in Information Systems, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1985, pp. 219-232.

Ehn, P. and Kyng, M. "The Collective Resource Approach to Systems Design," in Computers and Democracy: A Scandinavian Challenge, G. Bjerknes, P. Ehn, and M. Kyng (eds.), Avebury, Aldershot, United Kingdom 1979, pp. 17-57.

Fei Gao Meng Li and Yoshiteru Nakamori, (2002), "Systems thinking on knowledge and its management: systems methodology for knowledge management ", Journal of Knowledge Management Volume 6. Number(1) pp. 7;17, Japan.

Habermas, J. The Theory of Communicative Action: Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, Vol. II, T. McCarthy (tr.), Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 1984.

Huber, G.P. (1990), ``A theory of the effects of advanced information technology'', Academy of Management Review, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 47-71.

James Guthrie, (2001), "The management, measurement and the reporting of intellectual capital", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 27-41 Australia.

Janine Nahpiet, (1997), "Social Capital, Intellectual Capital and the Creation of Value in Firms", Academy of Management Proceedings, London.

Jenkins, C. and Sherman, B. The Collapse of Work, Eyre Methuen Publishers, London, 1994.

Jennifer Rowley, (1999), "What is knowledge management?" , Library Management Volume 20. Number 8.pp. 416-419, UK.

K.K.J. Ho and D. Sculli, (1994), "Organizational Theory and Soft Systems Methodologies", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 13 No. 7, pp. 47-58, Hong Kong.

Lyles, M.R. and Schwenk, C.R. (1992), ``Top management, strategy, and organizational knowledge structures'', Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 155-74.

Mark Valentine St Leon, (2002), "Intellectual capital Managerial perceptions of organizational knowledge resources", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 149-166, Australia.

Moran P. and Ghoshal. S., (1996), "Value creation by firms. In J. B. Keys and L.N. Dosier (Eds). ", Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings, London

Mumford, E. "Participation: From Aristotle to Today," in Beyond Productivity: Information Systems Development for organizational Effectiveness, T. Bemelmans (ed.), North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1984, pp. 95-1O4.

Mumford, E. "Participative Systems Design: Structure and Method," Systems, objectives, Solutions (1:1), January 1981, pp. 5-19.

Mumford, E. and MacDonald, B. XSEL's Progress: The Continuing Journey of an Expert System, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, United Kingdom, 1995.

Mumford, E. Designing Human Systems: The ETHICS Method, Manchester Business School, Manchester, United Kingdom, 1983.

Mumford, E. Private communication with authors, May 1993.

Nygaard, K. and Sorgaard, P. "The Perspective Concept in Informatics," in Computers and Democracy: A Scandinavian Challenge, G. Bjerknes, P. Ehn, and M. Kyng (eds.), Avebury, Aldershot, United Kingdom, 1987, pp. 371-393.

Peter Checkland, (2000), "The relevance of soft systems thinking", Human Resource Development International, Taylor Francis Ltd, UK. pp. 37-53.

Rolland Nicolas, (2004), "Knowledge management impacts on decision-making process ", Journal of knowledge management | vol. 8 NO. 1 pp. 20-31, France.

Simon. H. A., (1991), "Organisations and Markets", Journal of Economic Perspective, P. 25-44, London.

Suzanne Harrison and Patrick H. Sullivan, ( 2000 ), "Profiting from intellectual capital", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 33-46, USA.

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
Contact Us