Systems research, as a distinct approach, is new enough not to have its own Wikipedia entry yet. But this guide may well be the Foundation for such as one of the major questions prompting its writing was, ‘What makes research “systems” research?’ To answer this question, the authors, three of whom are also the volume’s editors, formed the Systems Research Team under the auspices of the International Federation for Systems Research. Their approach is itself an exposition of how to write systematically about systems thinking. Each of the eight chapters highlights a component that needs to be carefully considered in the, not necessarily sequential, process of systems research design – philosophical outlook, conceptual and theoretical framework, problem structuring methodology, modelling and simulation, action planning, final reporting, researcher competencies and impact evaluation. The seasoned researcher is offered an overarching schema for contextualising their own research; the novice a set of necessary steps to take. Each chapter is self-contained and also an integral part of the guide. Being both a whole and a part they are themselves holons, a term that does have its own Wikipedia entry.
Shankar Sankaran is a Professor of Organisational Project Management at the School of the Built Environment, as well as a Core Member of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Complex Real Property Rights and the Centre for Management and Organisational Studies.