Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Management (DMgt)

First Advisor

Jahangir Pourdehnad, Ph.D


Multi-ontological sense making in irreducible social systems requires the use of different worldviews to generate contextually appropriate understandings and insights for action in different systems states. While models exist for describing complex dynamics in social systems, no frameworks or aids exist to explain the system of worldviews. This dissertation developed a conceptual scheme that will aid in multi-ontological sense making in social systems. This conceptual scheme has both theoretical and practical implications for visualizing, understanding, and responding to social systems and ultimately to complexity. To develop this new conceptual scheme, a qualitative meta-synthesis approach was adopted to develop theory and to develop a framework for classifying management approaches, tools and techniques to corresponding worldviews for use in dynamic and complicated social systems. The research design was sequential, with four phases. In phase one a content analysis of 16 worldviews was conducted to develop a classification framework for worldviews. In phase two the worldview classification framework was then applied to 35 strategy consulting approaches to categorize the approaches to differing underlying worldviews and to understand the ontological mapping of the differing approaches. Phase three was analyzing the data, the results of which showed that strategy consulting engagements cast sense making in social systems primarily into three simplified quadrants: the simple, complex, and complicated. The results further showed that only the process consulting approaches adopted a multi-dimensional, worldview-driven approach to social systems, an approach that moved beyond the simplified states of the expert, doctor-patient, and emergent approaches to strategy consulting. In phase four a new theory of sense making was developed: the aspectus system. The aspectus system stresses the importance of segregating sense making activities in social systems into two distinct worldview-driven categories: (a) simplified sense making which informs and is followed by (b) metamodern sense making. In doing so, the Aspectus system separates worldview-driven sense making in social systems into a separate domain, emphasizing that social systems must be considered as both complex and complicated and also as distinct from other types of systems. The aspectus system application in shared sense making was then tested in a thought experiment to demonstrate how it should be applied in practice. The results indicate that a worldview-driven, metamodern approach to multi- ontological sense making in irreducible complex and complicated social systems generates contextually appropriate models for understanding, insights, and actions.


A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Management in Strategic Leadership