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Identifying and Solving the Right Problem by Using Multidimensional Systems Thinking

The paper “Identifying and Solving the Right Problem by Using Multidimensional Systems Thinking” by Laszlo Zsolnai was published in the book Responsible Research for Better Business. Creating Useful and Credible Knowledge for Business and Society. (Palgrave–Macmillan, London, 2020, pp. 35–46).

In this paper Zsolnai argues that it is a serious failure of business and management researchers when they solve the wrong problem precisely. This means that their problem formulation is inadequate which may lead to disastrous consequences for the wellbeing of the stakeholders. To avoid substantive failures in problem solving scholars should reconsider their basic assumptions about the system they study and include as many stakeholders’ views as possible. Appropriate problem solutions should address all the important dimensions of the problem in question (the scientific-technical, the interpersonal-social, the systemic-ecological, and the existential-spiritual), and try to create some optimal balance among them.

Zsolnai emphasizes that the job of responsible business and management research is identifying the right problems and producing solutions that are substantively adequate and ethically acceptable in a broad socioeconomic context. Business and management researchers are advised to evaluate their solutions from a deontological point of view (Which ethical norms are violated or satisfied by them?) and also from a consequentialist point of view (What are the payoffs for different stakeholders?).