An exploration of sense-making and learning with complexity science : a diary-based study
Literature in the organisational science and strategic management domains attribute value in the utilisation and application of analogies, metaphors and principles from the complexity science domain. However, little work has been carried out to explore how individuals do this. The aim of this research was therefore to explore the ways in which individuals made sense of their working lives by means of complexity science, as evidenced in work-focussed diaries. In order to meet this aim, a path of inductive, qualitative research was undertaken, of an exploratory and descriptive nature. The qualitative research tradition taken into consideration was that associated with management research. The research was loosely inspired by the survey approach and utilised commonly associated data collection methods. A hybrid interview style was adopted, combining well-known techniques that support a more conversational approach. Diaries were utilised in an open-ended format and an interactive style of on going research. Thirteen individuals volunteered to write weekly, work-focussed diaries, with the intention of continuing for one year: a goal which some met, but some did not. The general approach was inspired by a subjectivist, postmodern perspective, where it was seen as important to collect data from 'multiple voices', where relativist findings were generated from that data. As a result of this study, the novelty presented by this research includes: the development of an interactive and open-ended, personal, journal-like diary method, facilitating longer term research in conversations with research participants, producing thickly descriptive and narrative data; a complexity science learning model representing the development of individual interest, learning and potential areas of application; and, a replicable approach incorporating specific methods of interaction with individual learners and the knowledge around such an intervention.