Art of Organisational Problem-Solving

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This book focuses on one of the most illusive and difficult areas of management practice – the process of ‘organizational problem-solving’. It provides a much-needed discourse in management, which links theory and practice together. Its goal is to present an holistic set of unpinning principles which integrates inquiry as a integral component of management action in practice. As such, it is a discourse which is deeply intellectual, and yet entirely pragmatic. These principles are applicable and usable in any context. As such, it provides a radically new way of seeing the discipline of management, because it provides the intellectual basis for bringing together theory and practice in a way that has never been considered before.


“ ... This book is about the nature of problem-solving to improve organizational processes and contribute to the improvement of organizational performance. It argues for the need to recognize and integrate a range of different approaches and offers the reader a survey of approaches and techniques that can be utilized in a practical way. Its success is to demonstrate that utility through discussion, example and evidence from practical consulting assignments. While not claiming to be a book about theories, it does offer an explication of the role of systems thinking in conducting organizational analysis and the modeling of process ...” – (from the Preface) Dr. Don White, Lincoln Business School

“ ... This book is bold and ambitious – tackling the thorny issues of integration of disciplines, cross-over of functions and negotiation of epistemological divides in organisational problem solving ... This book provides a very comprehensive account of the convoluted process of organizational problem-solving. It is an extremely interesting read, drawing upon a wide range of disciplines, taking the reader back to core foundations, and portraying a colorful range of examples ...” – Dr. Gail Clarkson, Leeds University Business School

“ ... This book makes an interesting contribution both to thinking about managing (in) organizations, and to thinking about the processes for improving work practices. The latter is very much at a conceptual level, and it is this area that may well be most beneficial for students of management as an opportunity for reflecting upon (use of) the wide range of techniques to which they will have been exposed. The book encourages readers to be critical in their use of methods. However, this is a book about use of method, and not a book of methods, and unlike some other books, the author here attempts to lead readers through a series of ‘typical’ stages in method usage – encouraging the reader to reflect upon both the what and why of their own practice. It is in this area that, I think, the book may add most value.” – Dr. Keith Horton, Napier University

“ ... This is a genuine addition to the field. As the target audience is described as MBAs to PhDs, I have reflected on how I would use it. First, it could be used in a course on systems to enable understanding of systems analysis and intervention. It could also be used in a consulting course, and I would expect to incorporate it in a research methods/ project course ...” – Professor Roland Kaye, University of East Anglia

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Preface by Don White
1. Introduction
2. Challenges
3. Principles of Method
4. Inquiry for Diagnosis
5. Inquiry into Processes
6. Modelling Organisational Processes
7. Modelling Monitoring Processes
8. Inquiry for Strategic Prognosis
9. The Process of Intervention
10. Evaluation of Organisational Problem Solving
11. Concluding Remarks
Appendix 1

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