Critical systematic engagements with rural development and nature conservation organizations.
This collection of papers represents the author's maturing reflection on systemic engagements with three different organizations within the latter half of the first decade in post-Apartheid South Africa. The first two papers deal with two different systemic engagements: the first with a rural community development organization in a rural area of KwaZulu-Natal south of Durban and the second with the implementation of a district health system by a provincial health authority, also in KwaZulu-Natal. The last three are concerned with the theoretical and practical aspects of a single critical systems intervention (CSI) for policy development within the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, a parastatal nature conservation organization. The first paper, Designing a Management System for a Rural community Development Organization Using a Systemic Action Research Process describes the use of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) for the development of a Human Activity System (HAS) Model, that is, a conceptual model of purposeful human activities, to facilitate debate regarding a 'problem situation' faced by the community development organization. A Critical Systems Intervention to Improve the Implementation of a District Health System in KwaZulu-Natal is the second paper. As the title suggests, this paper describes a Critical Systems Intervention in a district health system implementation process. By using Concept Maps and Sign-Graph diagrams with SSM this paper contributes theoretically to the growing body of literature on methodological pluralism. Paper 3, Towards a critical systems approach to policy formulation in organizations contributes to the literature on organizational policy. It is noted in this paper that whilst there is a substantial body of literature on organizational strategy as well as on public policy, there is a dearth of literature on organizational policy. The thrust of the paper is twofold. Firstly, it draws a distinction and shows the relationship between organizational policy and organizational strategy. Secondly, building on this distinction, it develops a critical systems approach to policy formulation. Paper 4, Environmental Paradigms, Biodiversity Conservation and Critical Systems Thinking develops a framework of environmental paradigms which may be used for any CSI in nature management as a tool for values clarification. The collection concludes with Paper 5, A Critical Systems Intervention for Policy Development within a Nature Conservation Organization. It discusses the process undertaken in the nature conservation organization - Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife - intervention and shows how the approach to policy formulation (developed in Paper 3) and the framework for environmental paradigms (developed in Paper 4) were used in the intervention.