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Development and evaluation of a contingent methodology for surfacing information system requirements

Cross, Robert, H. (2002) Development and evaluation of a contingent methodology for surfacing information system requirements. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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For decades, soft systems thinking and socio-technical methods have evolved towards an ability to handle ever more complex and more divisive situations. This study sought to define and evaluate ways to effectively, efficiently and equitably provide solutions for complex problems. The result is a contingent methodology for surfacing information system requirements. Initially, Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), Mohawc: Modelling Human Activities in Work Context and ORDIT: Organisational Requirements Definitions for Information Technology were employed within an Action Research approach in a number of case studies. Through reflection after each case study, a new integrated socio-technical methodology known as Contingent Participative Methodology (CPM) has been developed.

CPM extends the contingent approaches of Critical Systems Thinking, specifically promoting internal contingency within the methodology. It is a practical methodology and demands stakeholder participation. A direct connection is provided to object-oriented specification through the Use Case model, described as a part of the Unified Modeling Language (UML), that is a current standard for object-oriented analysis and design.

Incorporated into CPM are two insights that are gained from this study. One is the use of Rich Pictures in both the problem domain and the solution domain. Another is the iteration from disagreement through discussion to consensus that takes place several times through a problem-solving process such as this.

This study demonstrates an integrated socio-technical methodology that provides solutions in complex and divisive situations and is effective, efficient and equitable. Because indications are that CPM may be suitable for use in complex-coercive situations, the proposed methodology may well fill the most difficult gap in the System of Systems Methodologies described by Flood and Jackson.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Business, Information Technology and Law
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Turk, Andrew
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