A Methodology for Reconstructing and Studying Social Systems Linkage Processes
Cummings, Thomas G. (1970). A Methodology for Reconstructing and Studying Social Systems Linkage Processes. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. Available from ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. (Publication No. AAT 7104864).
The study of a complex social process is a difficult and sometimes frustrating effort. The uncertainty of the flow of events, the difficulty in gaining entry and approval, the turbulent nature of social environments and deciding what is important and what is not are several problems that make “in process” (here and now) research complicated and sometimes impossible. This study is one attempt to overcome these limitations through a methodology for systematically reconstructing and studying a complex class of social phenomena in an historical research context.
This study evolved in an unusual, but predictable manner. During the academic year of 1968-69, I was a participant in a social systems linkage process involving students and faculty members from a graduate business school and middle-management personnel from a large industrial corporation. The project involved a collaborative learning and teaching effort in organizational change and development. I was a student member of the project, and at the time, I had few inclinations that someday I might be doing research on this process.
During the course of the project, the excitement and personal flavor of the social interchanges began to stimulate my research interests. Several preliminary inquiries ensued, and as the project came to an end, I was given approval and financial support to historically study the process. Instead of a typical case study, I felt that this study could be used to develop and demonstrate a methodology for systematically reconstructing and studying social systems linkage processes. The methodology would help to alleviate the difficulties of doing “in process” research on linkage processes in addition to giving others a standard procedure for the post hoc study of similar social processes.
My role in the linkage process was less than objective and led on several occasions to problems and issues which were quite emotionally charged. The friendships and close ties that evolved made the research process awkward and uncomfortable at times. Since fictitious names are given to all participants in the project, I cannot acknowledge directly the help and support of those individuals. Their role in this study is more important than most of them realize, and I am deeply greatful for their candor and openness.
This research report is divided into six chapters. Chapter I introduces the general problem area of social systems linkage and describes a typology for classifying different types of linkage processes. Chapter II is an in-depth narrative of the linkage process of this study, while Chapter III introduces the research design and instruments used in the course of this research. Chapter IV describes the analysis and results of the methodology developed in this study, and Chapter V is concerned with the further development of a general-purpose inkblot technique for measuring non-verbal perceptions of denotable concepts and objects. Chapter VI lists the summary and conclusions of the research.
The primary aim of this study has been to develop a methodology that accurately and succinctly portrays social systems linkage processes – this work is one attempt to systematically study and explore complex social processes.
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