Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2011, Hull, UK, Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the ISSS

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SYSTEMIC APPROACH FOR CREATING AND MANAGING SYSTEMIC RESEARCH GROUPS: THE EXPERIENCE OF A BRAZILIAN RESEARCH GROUP

Mayara Segatto, Verônica Angélica Freitas de Paula, Dante Pinheiro Martinelli

Abstract


Universities, research and teaching institutes, as organizations, are influenced by social changes, which require more and more systemic action to deal with complex situations. They are supposed to act in a more systemic way, developing more practical solutions to fulfill the need for a stronger linkage between academic research - especially those in applied social sciences - and social transformations. The new regulatory specifications of academic action are also elements that contribute to incorporate the systemic view into the practice of research groups. It happens because they involve multiple dimensions of groups’ performance, such as qualifying students, demands for publications, attention to funding agencies, monitoring the activity of international research groups, establishing international partnerships with other organizations, keeping the linkage between publications and monitoring the state of the art in its area among others. As research groups are also responsible for training qualified people to handle such situations, it is important to consider that those groups could do their job in a more effective way if they apply systemic assumptions to their own existence. The systemic approach allows groups to be systemic on their own identities. Besides that, the systemic view can help research groups understand their reality more broadly, considering various aspects through the analysis of the relationships that are established during its performance. From a literature review, this article aims at demonstrating the importance of the systemic approach to the creation and maintenance of research groups, highlighting the potential benefits of adopting systemic assumptions to the management of such groups. Furthermore, this paper presents the experience of a Brazilian research group created in order to be systemic in its own identity, describing the benefits, challenges and constraints identified over time since its creation. This academic research group was planned and designed to be systemic, based on studies of Systems Theory, the Soft Systems Methodology and the Viable System Model. The group was created upon the systemic perspective, with specific goals and objectives. Meanwhile, it has evolved into a larger structure and had modified its goals and concerns, dealing with challenges to maintain the systemic profile and the systemic way of working. Thus, this paper aims at exposing what kinds of challenges research groups can undergo while intending to be systemic. In order to accomplish these goals, a single case study is used. This is a descriptive study, with qualitative approach. Both secondary and primary data are used. Semi-structured interviews with former and current members of the group are developed. The main results obtained include a description of the group studied showing its creation process, first accomplishments, evolution and current scenario. The main difficulties faced by the group members, as well as the solutions they have built, are also described, demonstrating the benefits of the systemic approach to the activities of research groups.

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