Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Intention in Intervention: A Philosophical, Theoretical and Empirical Exploration

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posted on 2021-11-12, 10:53 authored by Velez-Castiblanco, Jorge

This thesis seeks to explore the role of agent or 'user' intention in the fields of Management Science and Systems Thinking. Primarily through the use of various modelling approaches these fields seek to provide assistance to organisational stakeholders who are looking to intervene in situations with a view to dealing with problems and/or bringing about some form of 'improvement'. Although the literature acknowledges that the various methodologies, techniques and tools of MS/ST can be used flexibly depending upon user intention, to date, intention itself has not been the subject of detailed investigation. The thesis seeks to plug this gap in the literature. In exploring intention in some detail the thesis interlinks philosophy, theory and empirical work. The philosophical and theoretical components allow us to conceptualise intention and better understand how it might work in concrete settings. The empirical component, conducted with a team of action researchers, grounds the discussion in practice. The main proposition of the thesis is that intention is a dual-sided phenomenon, i.e. "we do things intentionally, and we intend to do things" (Bratman, 1997). Thus intention has a present and a future side. The research reported on through the thesis shows how, through language and actions, both sides of intention can significantly shape the nature of interventions. This being the case, the value of the work is that it provides new ways of accounting for and learning from interventions; in particular, it provides new frameworks for practitioners to better reflect on and guide their actions.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Management School


Brocklesby, John; Jones, Deborah; Midgley, Gerald