Classification of Hard and Soft Systems

Problem situations classified along two dimensions, according to Jackson and Keys (1984):

  • complexity – number of of elements and their interactions
  • divergence of values and interests

Low complexity – few elements and well-defined, linear, stationary interactions.
High complexity – many elements, many interrelationships, dynamic and not well-understood relationships in turbulent environment
From systems viewpoint, envisage two types of complexity:

  • Technical complexity – physical, mathematical or computational nature
  • Human/social complexity – interrelationships between stakeholders






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