Broadening the boundaries: an application of critical systems thinking to IS planning in Colombia

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Most current information systems (IS) planning methodologies are focused on achieving plans that provide competitive advantage to business and solve the problems of information needs by using the latest technologies available. This paper presents an alternative approach to IS planning based on critical systems thinking—a research perspective that encourages the analysis of stakeholders' understandings of social contexts prior to the selection and/or design of planning methods. The approach is underpinned by a combination of the systems theories of autopoiesis and boundary critique, and it enables participants to reflect on different concerns and values during IS planning. This approach was applied in a project with a Colombian University, and it helped participants to uncover and address important human issues not usually seen as relevant by traditional approaches to IS planning. In addition, it led the authors to undertake further research on ethics after the project had been concluded
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1064-1080
JournalJournal of the Operational Research Society
Issue number9
Early online date19 Oct 2005
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2006


  • Autopoiesis
  • Boundary Critique
  • Information systems planning
  • Critical systems thinking
  • Ethics
  • Colombia

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