n Journal of Contemporary Management - Applying SSM to explore the complexity in a multi-stakeholder setting

Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1815-7440



This paper highlights the benefit of using Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) to facilitate a thorough understanding of the complexity in multi-stakeholder settings. This is demonstrated by means of applying SSM to a sugarcane production and supply system. The methodological approach featured a combination of SSM with qualitative research methods. SSM has not been applied in the sugar industry context and the amount of research that explores sugarcane supply chains holistically is limited.

The SSM application revealed pertinent issues, such as the transition from a corporate-owned sugar mill to a largely grower-owned mill, the presence of an insular view, resistance to change and deficient systemic commitment, the quality, quantity and consistency of cane supply and mill-related topics. The paper further reflects on some of the challenges that were encountered while applying SSM, like the inability to implement tangible improvements.
Despite these challenges, the paper concludes by highlighting the merit of SSM for today's managers, given its vast potential to facilitate a holistic insight.

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