Construction of a Multimethodology for use in Collaborative Model Actualization

Phil Cook



Multiple stakeholder engagement and collaboration is an area of great complexity and difficulty. Crossing paradigms and disciplines involves the engagement and understanding of multiple worldviews by all parties involved. This is difficult at best with the full cooperation of the stakeholders involved and is further exacerbated by financial structures, divergent objectives, power relations, and institutional biases within and between organizations. It is, however, posited that collaborative efforts of this magnitude and range are necessary to fully employ the undergirding ethic of Sustainable Development (SD). The SD ethic also implies an intergenerational consideration that the author suggests is best introduced through a collaboratively derived statement of ethic used to mediate all decisions put forth for employment.

This paper explores the assembly of a multimethodology constructed through the combination of widely held methodologies with peculiar strengths in a complementary manner. Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and a Collective Statement of Ethics (CSE) are assembled in a partitioned manner that allows each to maintain its core strengths while feeding the next iteration with what is argued a higher quality input. The ontological, epistemological and axiological implication of the multimethodology are examined and illustrated along with a review of the literature regarding the implications of such a methodology. It is deemed that the ontological variance is not significant and that the minor epistemological and axiological differences are within reasonable tolerances considering the multimethodological protocol employed and successful precedent use of similar methodologies.

The introduction of the CSE is suggested as a means to encourage a sense of fairness and to buffer power relations. It is proposed that the creation of the CSE will empower those who might in other circumstances have had a less than equitable voice in participatory environments. A secondary intent of the CSE is to open up the opportunity for the collaborative to introduce ecocentric, intergenerational and humanistic perspectives, inter alia, into the root definitions and conceptual models output actualized by the collaborative. Finally, the author explores the possibilities in the literature that might support a claim of change of behavior based on the sensitization of actors to repetition of standard ethics information or documents such as a CSE.

AI has been selected, based on its underpinnings in positive psychology, to overcome a perceived conceptual weakness in SSM relating to a focus on problems as opposed to strengths in the development of future creating scenarios. SSM has been selected as it, arguably, has at its core a more conventional process of deployment methodology. The two methodologies combined prove compatible and complementary in theory.

The context in which the methodology will be employed is also discussed as is the purpose of the multimethodology. Although, technique is not detailed in light of the stage of development of the methodology at this time, it is suggested that further steps include the development and subsequent deployment of the multimethodology, in a workshop offering, to the market. These suggested future activities follow conclusions that support the assembly of the methodology. The multimethodology partitions in a technically acceptable manner and the literature supports the use of similar multimethodology in practice.


Multiparadigmatic multimethodology; Soft Systems Methodology; Appreciative Inquiry; Sustainable Development; Ethics

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