Putting Systems Theory into Practice and Vice Versa

The Role of Observation in Analysing the Real World
  • Sam Waters
  • George Bakehouse
  • Christopher Davis
  • Kevin Doyle


This paper seeks to explore the extent to which conventional social scientific research techniques can be productively applied to the notionally specialist task of systems analysis. Specifically, the paper examines the contribution of participant observation to the process of organisation analysis. Our aim is to critically examine both the process of analysis and observational techniques in order to identify opportunities for their exploitation. The significant results of some action research in a leading neurosurgery department where observation was the main investigative technique are reported. The complementarity of those results to those generated by more regularly used techniques is discussed.


Participant Observation Health Service Executive United Kingdom Introduction Advanced Sector Strategic Review 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sam Waters
    • 1
  • George Bakehouse
    • 1
  • Christopher Davis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kevin Doyle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ComputingUniversity of the West of England, BristolBristolEngland
  2. 2.Information Management GroupUniversity of Glamorgan Business SchoolPontypridd, Mid GlamorganWales, UK

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