Boundaries to Change
An important question that needs to be asked, is whether changes can really be made with CSH (or critical systems thinking in general). With a critical, fundamental view the answer should be ‘not necessarily’. Using CSH is, in itself, no guarantee for success, but the chances for success do increase substantially when CSH is used.
From a positive perspective, it can be posed that by critically examining each other’s perspectives, one should get insight into and, hopefully, respect for the possibilities and impossibilities that belong to a role that one has to play in certain situations. If critical reflection also increases the room for change, then that is already quite an accomplishment. Nevertheless, the CSH approach has its disadvantages.
- CSH does not explain how ideas were formed, i.e. how assumptions and convictions have come into being and how power structures have evolved and how they are maintained.
- Why should people in power participate in a dialogue with all stakeholders? And if someone in power even were to participate: what would happen if they should feel morally responsible, but they do not? CSH only offers possibilities to point out shortcomings to the powers that be, but not the means to act upon this.
- ·CSH cannot deal with situations in which people are directed in a certain direction. This can quickly lead to stakeholders withdrawing, which results in a premature ending of the dialogue.
- CSH can, for some stakeholders, be hard to use, for example in case of limited language skills. Other stakeholders can use this and then the opposite of the idea of a level playing field is achieved.
A level playing field cannot always be enforced, especially when a moral appeal to the powers that be does not have a result. In that case, a higher authority is needed to get the stakeholders round the same table. See Social Theory.