Social Systems Theory and Engaged Scholarship: Co-designing a semantic reservoir in a polycentric network

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Abstract

Purpose
The purpose is to investigate a position for engaged scholarship bridging the gulf between theorizing and practice in a social system perspective using Design Thinking for assisting the emergence of a semantic reservoir in a polycentric network “in spe”.

Design/methodology/approach
The paper combines social systems theory with the concept of engaged scholarship based on Design Thinking, and illustrates how such a research position might be applied to problems of polycentric networks as a theoretical/methodological case.

Findings
The paper concludes on a possible role for an engaged scholarship as a midwife assisting the emergence of a shared semantic reservoir that is needed to make commitments and couplings possible to become a polycentric network. Design Thinking is explained as a structured way to irritate (disturb) other systems, and the role of a shared semantic reservoir for a polycentric network “in spe” is accounted for.

Originality/value
Bridging the gulf between theorizing and practice in management theory is under-explored, and social systems theory underlines the immanent rigor-relevance gap, which this paper suggests a way not to overcome, but to bridge. The discussion of the rigor-relevance gap is revisited. Also, the critical process for a shared semantic reservoir to emerge in the formation of poly-centric networks is underexplored and so are its role for coupling of networks. The conceptual understanding thereof is also contributed to.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
ISSN0953-4814
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

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