McQuitty Causal Path Statistics

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McQuitty Feature

 

ORT_Logo Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  2 September 2022

McQuitty Causal Path Analysis

This article is a necessary preliminary to the articles which follow and define organisational thermometers. An organisational thermometer is a tool to measure staff satisfaction in any largish enterprise in an ongoing way. The article is also related to all the Fred Emery associated articles, two of which precede it. These are 1 Causal Texture Paper and 2 the Search Conference

Main Points

  • My background with Fred Emery and in statistics
  • A general overview of statistical analysis
  • Fred Emery’s consulting work for TIHR on consumer products
  • McQuitty causal path analysis and how to do it explained
  • Examples of McQuitty causal paths or roadmaps

1 My Background

I mentioned in Causal Texture and in the Search Conference that I met Fred Emery when employed at the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) at the Australian National University (ANU) in 1979.

I was finishing up my PhD in Zoology at ANU at the time and was slightly dissatisfied with some aspects of inattentive reductionism in science at the time. When I discovered Fred’s ideas on systems thinking, it was as if I’d suddenly discovered what I was looking for and had to pursue it.

I got into Fred’s theoretical ideas and search conferencing quite quickly, which annoyed at least one person on the CCE staff. I became quite conversant with Fred’s theoretical ideas and reasonably competent at running search conferences in the next 18 months or so. Continue reading “McQuitty Causal Path Statistics”

The Search Conference Fred Emery

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Featured Image: Merrelyn Emery Ed. Searching: for new directions, in new ways for new times, Centre for Continuing Education, Australian National University 1976.

ORT_Logo Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  4 August 2022

The Search Conference Fred Emery

Fred Emery, was an amazingly perceptive and prescient systems scientist, who was, without a shadow of a doubt, the father of the systems movement down here in the antipodes, to which he returned in the 1970s after a very distinguished career at the Tavistock Research Institute in London. (Richard Bawden, 1999)

Background

My previous article an annotated version of Emery & Trist’s famous Causal Texture paper may have been too academic for some. To make amends I will try to make this description of the Search Conference much simpler.

I covered Fred’s biography in overview in my previous article. Fredrick Edmund Emery (1925-1997) first went to the Tavistock Institute in London 1951-52 as a UNESCO Research Fellow. He returned to the Tavistock in 1957 where he remained until 1969. He collaborated with Eric Trist, Russell Ackoff, Charles West Churchman, Einar Thorsrud and others during this immensely fertile theoretical and practical period of action research.

In 1969 he returned to Australia and remained in residence in Canberra until his death in 1997, whilst still collaborating widely in Australia and travelling regularly overseas. Richard Bawden (pers. comm.) remembers Fred for his boundless energy and undeniably forthright manner, as do many others.

Whilst in the UK, Fred’s ideas though diverse were integrated into a strong framework or discipline that was internally consistent.

These areas of concentration were the discovery and analysis of industrial democracy underground in the Elsecar Collieries by Trist and Bamforth. The development of the theory of sociotechnical systems based on this and on insights from psychology and the social sciences. The Norwegian Industrial Democracy experiments. Ideas on open systems and their environments. A developing understanding of the necessary and sufficient criteria for semi-autonomous and self-managing groups. Preliminary ideas on participative design. Approaches to the study of organisations with West Churchman and purposeful systems with Russell Ackoff. And, work on values, ideals and planning options based on this, which barely scratches the surface.

As part of this process early on Fred Emery designed the search conference in 1959 and further developed it in the early 1960s at the Tavistock Institute.

According to Bawden (1999) via Merrelyn Emery, the Search Conference process was not formalised until the mid-1970s. I also think that Merrelyn’s role in this later development should be acknowledged fully (see M Emery Ed., 1976).

The Search Conference

Overview

Introduction

Fred Emery was involved in industrial democracy, socio-technical systems and other participative methods with groups.

He designed the Search Conference in 1959 for values-based participative planning by groups wanting or requiring organisational change. The Search combines normative planning (values) with strategic planning and active participation.

In part this was because of defining ‘turbulent environments’ as a dynamic new type of environment that organisations faced in the post-war. Much of this is explained in the annotated paper cited above. The salient characteristic of a turbulent environment is complexity and uncertainty. New ways of planning were needed.

The design was based on innovative research in behavioural psychology, group behaviour, social science and organisational planning from the 1930s to 1950s, amalgamated into an integrated framework.

Richard Bawden says:

Weisbord and Janoff (1995) … emphasized [that] Emery was quick to acknowledge the importance of social psychological theories, as well as system theories in informing his understanding of the dynamics of the work groups that he studied. In particular, he and his colleagues explicitly drew upon the consensus research of Solomon Asch (1952) and the group dynamic theories developed by Wilfred Bion (1961). Continue reading “The Search Conference Fred Emery”

Annotated Emery and Trist Causal Texture Paper

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Featured Image: FE Emery Ed. Systems Thinking, Vol 1 Penguin, 1981.

 

Feature Fred Emery Systems Thinking Vol 1 1981

 

ORT_Logo Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  12 July 2022

FE Emery & EL Trist The Causal Texture of Organizational Environments Annotated

Introduction

I’ve been going back to Fred Emery’s ‘Search Conference’ methodology and my own ‘Search-based’ focus groups recently and thinking about my distant past.

This has brought me republish this classic paper online, as it is fundamental to participative planning. Participation and community engagement may be re-emerging, particularly at the moment in Australian politics.

Many people may not be aware of how participative planning emerged in the 1960s and 1970s and why open-systems thinking was the intellectual base to these activities.

I republished JBS Haldane’s 1929 paper on The Origin of Life in 2015, with some annotations and have been surprised at its reception and ongoing popularity.

Fred Emery & Eric Trist’s classic paper The Causal Texture of  Organizational Environments Human Relations 18:21-32, cited 6356 times (according to Google & others), is longer and slightly more difficult than Haldane’s but also very readable. The annotations should provide a context and perhaps an explanation of some ideas.

I worked alongside Fred & Merrelyn Emery whilst at the Centre for Continuing Education from 1979 and more peripherally in the late 1980s and 1990s. I also followed up on much of Fred’s research and visited Einar Thorsrud in Norway for nearly two months in 1981.

Biographical Notes

Fredrick Edmund Emery (1925-1997) was born in Narrogin in the wheatbelt of WA. He obtained his PhD in social psychology in 1953. During 1951-52 as a UNESCO Research Fellow to the Tavistock Institute in London. He worked with Eric Trist and became aware of the industrial democracy system that Eric Trist and Ken Bamforth had discovered in the Elsecar Collieries, using the Longwall method of coal mining.

In 1957 he returned to the Tavistock Institute where he had a close intellectual relationship with Eric Trist and others further refining the concept of sociotechnical systems, including Einar Thorsrud in Norway, with whom he conducted the large-scale Norwegian industrial democracy experiments. Later, he worked closely with Russell Ackoff at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He probably met Ackoff in the UK in 1961-1962, while Ackoff was based at the University of Birmingham. Continue reading “Annotated Emery and Trist Causal Texture Paper”

Case Study of Q Research

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Case Study of Q Research, a Marketing Research Company

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 3 August 2018

Q Research: Portrait of a small Strategic Marketing Research Company

Preamble

This is a portrait of a small business I started and ran for eight years from 1988 to 1995. It was a small strategic marketing research company that offered something quite different to clients; most of whom appreciated it and some didn’t.

It is perhaps a little self-indulgent publicising Q Research so many years after it closed, but there would have been sensitivities and confidentiality issues previously. Please skip this article, if the topic isn’t of interest.

The key elements described are small business, marketing research and what is involved. The theoretical framework for our approach was based on the work of Australia’s most recognised social scientist Frederick Edmund Emery, with whom I worked at ANU (the Australian National University), and in particular his Search Conference methodology, which I have mentioned several times previously (see The Art of Prophecy). Also relevant are sampling and survey research methodology, questionnaires, quantitative and qualitative approaches and analysis. Don’t switch off. I won’t be providing details.

Continue reading “Case Study of Q Research”

The art of prophecy

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Featured prophecy image: Tiger & Crow Mannequins, Shop Display Bangkok

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ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  Friday 13 May 2016

The art of prophecy & William Gibson


 Introduction

I hadn’t intended to write this article about prophecy at all. Following Classic Scifi 4: William Gibson Neuromancer the next step was to analyse William Gibson’s prescience and his ability to prophesy elements of the future. More accurately the article was to analyse Gibson’s ability through his fiction to hold a mirror up to our real future. We could then use that understanding to analyse what it all means, through concrete examples of prophecy presented in the Neuromancer trilogy. More of that later.

Yet, I wanted to present this in the context of what it does take to prophesy future trends. As I began, I realised that it was crucially important to understand the nature of prophesying the near future and how others had gone about it, before we could understand what a rare talent Gibson has.

Continue reading “The art of prophecy”