© 2017

A Guide to Systems Research

Philosophy, Processes and Practice

  • Mary C. Edson
  • Pamela Buckle Henning
  • Shankar Sankaran
  • Provides a holistic approach to addressing complex problems that are difficult to investigate using conventional research methods

  • Explains the underpinning philosophy of systems research

  • Helps academic supervisors guide graduate students engaged in systems research


Part of the Translational Systems Sciences book series (TSS, volume 10)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. John J. Kineman
    Pages 21-57
  3. Mary C. Edson, Louis Klein
    Pages 59-80
  4. John J. Kineman
    Pages 81-109
  5. Shankar Sankaran
    Pages 111-142
  6. Will Varey
    Pages 143-175
  7. Pamela Buckle Henning
    Pages 177-198
  8. Mary C. Edson, Gary S. Metcalf
    Pages 199-234
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 235-244

About this book


This guide is designed for systems researchers – emerging and seasoned – searching for holistic approaches of inquiry into complexity, which the Systems Sciences provide. The authors share insight into the foundations of research that are not only systematic in terms of rigor, but systemic in perspective, analysis, design, development, implementation, reporting, and evaluation. This guide also explores researcher competencies necessary to conduct sound systems research. Researchers using this guide will gain understanding of what distinguishes systems research from other types of research and why it is important in research today.


Systems Research Action Research Systems Philosophy Modeling Systems Systems Competencies Systems Science Relational Theory Complex Systems Project Management Systems Framework Problem Structuring Checkland's FMA Model Action Research Cycle Systemic Issues Systems Engineering General Systems Theory Soft Systems Thinking Organizational Behavior Systems Modeling Cybernetics

Editors and affiliations

  • Mary C. Edson
    • 1
  • Pamela Buckle Henning
    • 2
  • Shankar Sankaran
    • 3
  1. 1.International Federation for Systems ResearchViennaAustria
  2. 2.Adelphi University Garden CityUSA
  3. 3.University of Technology SydneyBroadwayAustralia

About the editors

Mary C. Edson is President of the International Federation for Systems Research and leads the Systems Research Team at its biennial Conversations. She is also President of Equipoise Enterprises, a coaching and consulting firm focused on building leadership competencies and adaptive capacity in individuals, groups, and teams for cultivation of organizational resilience.Mary engages students in experiential learning in the Masters of Organizational Leadership program at Union Institute and University. She is interested in advancing systemic inquiry at the intersection of organizational behavior, project management, and the systems sciences.

Pamela Buckle Henning is Associate Professor of Management at the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business at Adelphi University in New York, where she teaches organizational behavior, leadership, teamwork, and group dynamics. Her scholarly and clinical work is oriented around the perspective that human psychology is a complex system embedded in densely interconnected biological, interpersonal, institutional, and environmental systems. She collaborates with international researchers investigating the cognitive and emotional processes involved in systems thinking, and the worldviews and values systems of systems thinkers.

Shankar Sankaran is Professor of Organizational Project Management at the University of Technology Sydney, where he teaches systems thinking and supervises doctoral students. He has worked in industry as well as academia.His research interests lie primarily in systems thinking and action research. He is the current Vice President, Research and Publishing, at the International Society for the Systems Sciences and the Chair of the Action Research Special Integration Group.

Bibliographic information

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