Operations research addressing dynamic complexity : a reinvention of the South African industrial relations system
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Within Operations Research, there is a lacuna in the development of emancipatory methodologies at the practical level. Coercive problem contexts therefore challenge Operations Research practitioners to respond to the discipline's purpose of alleviating real world problems for the increasing of human well-being. The purpose of this study is to investigate the developing of a methodology within Operations Research to resolve the dynamic complexity of messes occurring within the complex-coercive problem context. To investigate the developing of such a methodology, the main objective of this study has been formulated as: to work out and to enrich a methodology to address dynamic complexity as in the complex-coercive problem context. Different approaches may be followed to develop methodologies, e.g. theoretical conceptualising or practical observing. In this study an approach inking theory (Operations Research) and practice (South African Industrial Relations, an application area in the complex-coercive problem context), has been used to develop a methodology for addressing dynamic complexity as in the complex-coercive problem context. The methodology comprises the notion of a worthwhile future and a two-prong approach towards attaining the worthwhile future. A worthwhile future is defined as a future in which every stakeholder within the system experiences a continuous improvement in quality of life, to the common benefit of all stakeholders. The two-prong approach consists of a push - structural change - and a pull - shared mission - towards the worthwhile future. A dynamic interplay would exist between structural change and a shared mission. Structural change would have a "push" effect in the sense that behaviour is influenced, sometimes even determined by structure. It has been argued that structural change is to be brought about by external pressure, a demonstration of power as a coercive as well as an enabling force. With shared mission is meant an overriding mission to which all the stakeholders of the system and its subsystems are committed. Shared mission would have a "pull" effect towards a worthwhile future in the sense that a mission articulates purpose, aims at a higher ideal and embodies action. The process of establishing a shared mission can only be initiated after some structural change has been effected. For establishing a shared mission, a detailed action plan has been designed. Within the action plan GABEK (©Zeiger) as a communication and intervention tool, plays an integral part. GABEK (Ganzheitliche Bewaltigung sprachlich erfasster Komplexitat - holistic processing of linguistically represented complexity) is a technology that enables the surfacing of underlying feelings, values, attitudes and their interconnections, in the respondents' own words. The starting point of GABEK is open-ended questions, aiming at allowing respondents to express themselves from their own frame of reference, rather than from that of the researcher. The methodology developed has been tried out in the Vaal Triangle, a highly industrialised region of South Africa. Positive results have been obtained. With separate GABEK analyses per stakeholder grouping, a common concern amongst the stakeholders of the South African Industrial Relations System (in the Vaal Triangle), has been identified, namely the plight of the unemployed. During the next phase of implementing the action plan , a shared mission has been surfaced: to co-operate in partnership with the community for the community. Subsequently action plans towards especially job creation in the Vaal Triangle have been derived and are being put into motion. Based on the results this study has succeeded, even if only within the limited region of the Vaal Triangle, to respond to the purpose of Operations Research: to alleviate a real world problem for the increasing of human well-being.