SSM and technology management: Developing multimethodology through practice

Adrian Small, David Wainwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Growing competition and economic recession is driving the need for more rapid redesign of operations enabled by innovative technologies. The acquisition, development and implementation of systems to manage customer complaints and control the quality assurance process is a critical area for engineering and manufacturing companies. Multimethodologies, and especially those that can bridge ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ OR practices, have been seen as a possible means to facilitate rapid problem structuring, the analysis of alternative process design and then the specification through to implementation of systems solutions. Despite the many ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ OR problem structuring and management methods available, there are relatively few detailed empirical research studies of how they can be combined and conducted in practice. This study examines how a multimethodology was developed, and used successfully, in an engineering company to address customer complaints/concerns, both strategically and operationally. The action research study examined and utilised emerging ‘soft’ OR theory to iteratively develop a new framework that encompasses problem structuring through to technology selection and adoption. This was based on combining Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) for problem exploration and structuring, learning theories and methods for problem diagnosis, and technology management for selecting between alternatives and implementing the solution. The results show that, through the use of action research and the development of a contextualised multimethodology, stakeholders within organisations can participate in the design of new systems and more rapidly adopt technology to address the operational problems of customer complaints in more systemic, innovative and informed ways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-673
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number3
Early online date12 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2014


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