Exploring the use of Soft Systems Methodology with realist approaches: A novel way to map programme complexity and develop and refine programme theory

Dalkin, Sonia, Lhussier, Monique, Williams, Lynne, Burton, Christopher, R. and Rycroft-Malone, Jo (2018) Exploring the use of Soft Systems Methodology with realist approaches: A novel way to map programme complexity and develop and refine programme theory. Evaluation, 24 (1). pp. 84-97. ISSN 1356-3890

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389017749036

Abstract

As the use of realist approaches gains momentum, there is a growing interest in how systems approaches can complement realist thinking. In this paper, we discuss how the epistemology of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) is compatible with realist approaches. Both SSM and realist approaches emphasise the necessity to engage stakeholders; through models, the description of contingencies and exploring the intricacies of how complex programmes really work. We outline the key elements of realist approaches and SSM, and report on two novel case studies. Drawing on our own experiences, we make the case that, used in conjunction with a realist approach, SSM can provide a useful tool to a) map programme complexity, b) develop and refine stakeholders programme theories, thus increasing the transparency, reliability, validity and accuracy of the theory building and refining process in realist approaches. We highlight SSM as a novel companion to realist approaches and detail the first case studies of its use.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Realist evaluation, Realist Syntheses, Soft Systems Methodology, Stakeholders, Systems Thinking
Subjects: G500 Information Systems
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Sonia Dalkin
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2017 12:32
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2018 08:56
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/32909

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