An open-systems perspective on urban ports: an exploratory comparative analysis
journal contributionposted on 08.06.2017, 01:42 by Barton, John, Selsky, John W.
Emery and Trist's Open-Systems Thinking (OST) school is identified as an important but underutilised approach in systems theory. The main features of OST are described, and the concepts are then demonstrated through application to a case concerning the complex social dynamics of urban port domains in New Zealand. An exploratory comparative exercise is then undertaken, in which the case is re-framed in terms of three other systems schools: system dynamics, soft systems methodology, and critical systems thinking. This exploration reveals some fundamental differences in their ontological underpinnings. It also illuminates some lacunae in the previous representation of the port domain case. The exercise helps us to begin to articulate a framework to aid in cross-referencing the four systems schools, and to situate OST concepts in relation to other systems approaches.