An Enhanced Use of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) in Mode 2 to Explore Online Distance Education in Saudi Arabia

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This paper develops a framework to enhance the use of Soft Systems Methodology or SSM in Mode 2, with the aim of learning about Online Distance Learning or ODE in the country of Saudi Arabia. Mode 2 focuses on learning by mapping, internalising and reflecting on SSM principles, stages or techniques to make sense of situations as fluxes of events. This mode of use has been scarce in the literature in the last 20 years, partly because of the popularity of a more explicit Mode 1 of use which advocates explicit and participative application of SSM stages and methods. In the case under study, one of us (the researcher) engaged with ODE as an area of exploration; difficulties of access to the situation led her to shift to a Mode 2 of SSM use, and include Kolb’s experiential learning theory/model in her framework of ideas (F) to refine her initial learning framework. We discuss implications for SSM use to enhance learning of researchers in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1935-1948
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Operational Research Society
Issue number9
Early online date27 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2022


  • Soft Systems Methodology (SSM
  • Systems Thinking
  • Saudi Arabia
  • online distance education
  • Mode 2
  • Kolb
  • Experiential Learning

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