A Call for Exploring the Boundaries
Much action and most research is conducted from a disciplinary perspective. This seeks to prioritise and optimise the efficacy of the discipline from the disciplines perspective. It takes other disciplines as beyond the boundary and so takes the other's actions as inputs to their system to be dealt with. There is no overview of the combined activity and certainly little evaluation of the disciplines perspective other than on how to make its actions more efficient and to makes its boundaries clearer to avoid problems as a result of disturbances from the outside. In the last 10 years there has been much desire to operate in an inter-disciplinary and indeed multi-disciplinary way. This explores the working relationships of related disciplines across their boundaries.This on a wider business level has become business process re-engineering and supply chain management with substantive improvements as the interdependence of actions is acknowledged. This is extremely successful where there are mutual objectives to be achieved as in business enterprises and individual disciplines can make sacrifices of their optimised individual actions for the benefit ofthe whole and ultimately for their own longer term benefit. There are still problems because, as in all business enterprises, the objectives are not completely mutual; however, the overall benefits, particularly at a level of transaction costs, can offset these problems during normal unproblematic projects.
This multi-disciplinarity works in individual business area for example in the project delivery; however as we look at Strategic Development the number of mutual objectives reduces and indeed the number of objectives that are in conflict increases e.g. short term vs long term; private enterprise vs public constitution, individual vs group, controlled vs evolutionary, calculated vsintuitive. The engagement becomes more of managing conflicting objectives and indeed conflicting values where perspectives of the world, and the resulting means and ends may not be shared.
In the Strategic Development Research Unit, the exploration of boundaries between disciplines starts with the constitution of the disciplines within in a wider social and indeed historical setting. Often a discipline has been constituted to carry a particular set of values against those of another discipline toprovide a balance. The processes of engagement have been constituted to operationalise the conflict of values and to mediate negotiations. The problem then is that this operationalisation becomes the action rather than the more effective decision making across the legitimate value conflict. There is a development of 'games' playing both in strategy and technique to effect an outcome that benefits a particular value perspective. This induces a highdegree of political lobbying around hidden agendas which becomes the means of making decisions with policy and regulation interpreted and re-interpretted indexically. Solutions then are embedded in the pragmatic means rather than being about a robust strategic development.
Such exploration, as conducted by the Strategic Development Research Unit, are sometimes referred to as trans-disciplinary where a perspective is sought which recognises, accepts and works with the differencesin values and perspectives. It is not just the solution that is being explored but the means of achieving this.