Systems mapping: access to understanding, cooperation, and action

Widoe Jr, Robert Owen
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Systems Mapping uses qualitative research methods to capture and display, in graphic and narrative form, the workings of a system of human activity. In the past, Systems Mapping has been used singularly for program and systems development, for conducting research and evaluation, for guiding and informing policy development, for identifying system linkages, for designing and promoting collaborative systems efforts, and for informing funders, stakeholders, policy makers, and citizens. The purpose of this study was to use Systems Mapping to tie many of these diverse elements together, facilitate the successful redesign of a municipality's tourism and events promotion program, and to assess Systems Mapping's contribution to the process. Most Systems Mapping projects have unfolded in a relatively straight-forward manner. The current case required adapting and modifying the use of the Systems Mapping process. The differences and departures may have had a significant impact on the results for a number of reasons. Moreover, the mapping itself was stopped due to the identification of sensitive political issues that could not be resolved through a participatory process such as Systems Mapping. The Systems Mapping data were assessed using a version of Lincoln and Guba's (1985) criteria for establishing trustworthiness, and participant interviews were conducted to assess Systems Mapping's contributions. This use of Systems Mapping did produce some access to understanding and action, but not cooperation. There were a number of lessons learned, both cautionary and confirmatory regarding the use of Systems Mapping in this or other similar contexts.
xii, 219 leaves
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