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The development of a purposeless system approach

Su, Hwan-Yann


Hwan-Yann Su


Norma R. A. Romm


This thesis explores how one's understanding of the world may be broadened by consciously engaging rationalities in opposition. I conduct this exploration by considering the relationship between what I call one's "originating rationality" and its opposites. By "originating rationality" I mean the way of thinking that one initially embraces. Opposite of the originating rationality is: some opposition that one can envisage and take on board; and some opposition which one cannot consider as relevant. This latter I call the opposite irrelevant or unknown to one's originating rationality.

I introduce the concept of systems thinking and show that the link between opposites is systemic. I organise my discussion of the exploration of the systemic link between opposites by making reference to, and revisiting, the proposals of the Viable System Model (VSM) and the ideas of System Dynamics (SD). Through my discussion of these, I suggest that a new concept of systems thinking (the concept of a purposeless system) is needed. Operating in terms of this concept, I develop a purposeless system approach named Complementary Intervention (Cl).

I indicate how in a specific context of a Cl project carried out in a supermarket chain in Taiwan, participants' understanding of the world could be broadened by their consciously engaging rationalities in opposition, while at the same time developing caution about their broadened understanding and about their decisions and further actions. I show how my own understanding of a purposeless system could be used in this context to organise a debate around the idea of such a system and, in this case, to consider what the embodiment of a purposeless system might involve. Through the project, I arrive at the suggestion that participants' rational framework can be defined as an evolving rational framework; and that the relationship between it and its opposite is an evolving relationship.


Su, H. (1999). The development of a purposeless system approach. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Apr 20, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Dec 1, 1999


Thesis (29.1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1999 Su, Hwan-Yann. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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