Applying Systems Thinking onto Emergency Response Planning
Using Soft Systems Methodology to Structure a National Act in Sweden
Christine Groβe
Department of Information and Communication Systems, Mid Sweden University, Holmgatan, Sundsvall, Sweden
Keywords: Soft Systems Methodology, Operations Research, Emergency Response Planning, Decision Support, Styrel.
Abstract: This paper outlines a soft systems method approach to model a national preparedness planning procedure for
the case of an electrical power shortage. Through the model, we provide a new perspective on enhancing and
understanding the joint decision-making environment for the actors involved in the planning procedure, as
well as its underlying power structure. By a process of abstraction from the current implementation, a core
root definition is presented which provides a generic systems view that can be a useful concept for the study
of similar contexts. An action model dedicated to determining meaningful and valid activities is derived,
providing insights for the improvement of collaborative emergency response planning in general. The paper,
thus, aims to contribute to the communication and cooperation between actors and stakeholders in the
development of appropriate decision processes and decision support in the context of emergency preparedness.
The constant availability of electricity is, nowadays,
a precondition for many parts of infrastructure. It is
demanded in almost every part of our day-to-day lives
and businesses. Since lacking power affects essential
functions of a society’s common life, it constitutes a
key sector of critical infrastructure (CI). Cascading
consequences can harm other sectors of CI and,
thereby, affect the industry and population which
depends upon them (Rinaldi et al., 2001). These
consequences can occur locally, affect a larger
community, and also involve global interests. Thus,
proper planning of the power supply is necessary.
Variations in electricity generation related to
consumption can also lead to risk situations in the
supply network, which have to be balanced to
maintain the reliability of power delivery
(Maliszewski and Perrings, 2012).
Due to the dimensions and climate conditions of
Sweden, providing electrical power to every
inhabited place is challenging for both humans and
materials. Maintaining a distributed power grid needs
permanent effort. Since infallible protection against
all kinds of power shortage seems to be an impossible
task, proper continuity management and emergency
response planning can help to handle adverse events
and alleviate the consequences of them. Sweden’s
power generation and supply landscape is fragmented
due to the privatisation of the electricity market in
1996 (Bergman, 1997). This fragmentation hampers
decision paths and complicates communication
between the individuals and groups responsible for
electrical power in Sweden. In order to manage
continuous power delivery, many of the necessary
adjustment operations are automated. Nevertheless,
in the case of power shortage, a response plan can
support reliable decision making. Besides an analysis
of the societal consequences, the planning needs to
consider responsibilities, a previously defined chain
of order, plausible and documented priorities, and a
structured approach, enabling an operations team to
reach the goals of reconditioning and maintenance
while causing as little subsequent problems as
possible (Johansson and Hassel, 2014).
Contingency planning – preparing this solid basis
for an operational emergency response – depends on
information sharing and cooperation between the
stakeholders involved (Pramanik at al., 2015), and
their perception of a crisis (Nilsson, 2010; Penrose,
2000; van Laere, 2013). The combination of various
stakeholders being involved, with their own points of
interest and responsibilities, and the sensitivity of the
power grid, is expected to cause tensions. The added
fact that these tensions can impact interdependent CI
impels the following study.
The study investigates the planning process and
circumstances with a particular focus on the
Groçe C.
Applying Systems Thinking onto Emergency Response Planning - Using Soft Systems Methodology to Structure a National Act in Sweden.
DOI: 10.5220/0006126202880297
In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems (ICORES 2017), pages 288-297
ISBN: 978-989-758-218-9
2017 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
stakeholders involved, their interrelations, and the
belonging context. The leading research question is:
Which elements of a conceptual system model
should be considered during emergency response
planning, regarding power supply within the complex
context of critical infrastructure?
Since the problem situation appears to be not
particularly well-structured, with unclear objectives,
a soft system analysis and modelling approach has
been chosen to meet the conditions appropriately
(Avison and Taylor, 1997). The remainder of the
paper reads as follows: after briefly describing the
background of systems thinking and the response
planning approach, the research process is outlined.
After the system analysis, the conceptual system
model is presented and discussed, related to the
associated context. Final remarks conclude the paper
and outline the prospects for further research.
2.1 Systems Thinking
The term “system” has been discussed for more than
half a century. This discussion provoked a number of
concepts and opinions. This paper falls short of
defining the term in general; rather, the concepts
underlying the study and research-leading points of
view are marked. Systems can be considered to be
complexes of elements standing in interaction
(Bertalanffy, 1968, p. 33). Interactions in this quote
suggests that relations between elements are not
linear, and by that trivial – rather, they are complex
and do not necessarily have correlations by causality
or determinism. Searching for a generally valid
theory to describe phenomena inside, between and
around systems gave rise to the General System
Theory, which emphasis its interdisciplinary
character by accepting both mathematical and
sociological analysis techniques (Bertalanffy, 1968,
p. 2). The open system, standing in an exchange
relationship to its environment, crosses system
borders in useful interaction (Bertalanffy, 1968,
p. 141). This illustrates the challenges to set system
boundaries, and not only in the context of response
planning. The fact that individuals can be seen as
elements in one or several systems can result in
conflicts in goals and behaviour. The intention to
provide a universal approach to all kind of system led
to a hierarchical classification of complexity
according to corresponding individuals (Boulding,
1956). In this hierarchical order, the social system
appeared at the top in terms of complexity. Evidently,
influences on power structures and group behaviour,
as well as individual target tracking, within and
between systems, are all related to this order. It
complicates the predictability of interactions and the
ensuing decisions within a social system.
Furthermore, modern societies and organisations
are characterised by the use of many technical
systems. The functionalities of the technical part of a
In turn, the knowledge and behaviour of an intended
user influences the outcome of a technical system. A
socio-technical system, as a holistic system, is able to
achieve a better outcome than the parts standing alone
(Emery and Trist, 1960). Particularly important is the
ability of the human, as part of the system, to create
improvement and add value to the system (Mumford,
2006). Moreover, their adaptability of behaviour in
emergencies is an important aspect for system
resilience (Boin and McConnell, 2007).
Besides the technical infrastructure, the power-
delivery system relies on the willingness of decision-
makers in case of power outages (Maliszewski and
Perrings, 2012). This unbalanced power relation
requires intervention by the government to preserve
societal interests. If conflicts between groups of
interests arise, a balancing of risks is required to avoid
the damage that could be caused by conflict
escalation (Wimelius and Engberg, 2015). In
addition, an observer’s perspective in his or her role
as a system analyst can be biased, which raises further
potential for conflicts. An analyst has to respect
constitutive characteristics while introducing an
observed system to analysis; namely they are:
different points of view, events and decisions,
interconnectivity and a topic as limitation (Kieser,
2001; Rüegg-Stürm, 2001).
Hence, two dimensions of governance have
resulted from the deliberations above, providing a
basis for response planning: the horizontal
structures for processes, with resources and
responsibilities, and the vertical – structures for
organisation, e.g., power structures within a system.
Thus, consequent coordination of the information
flow through a system, both horizontal and vertical,
provides adequate conditions for communication and
cooperation between interrelated elements of a
system. A case of particular importance is the
response planning system in Sweden regarding the
power supply to key consumers in the context of CI.
2.2 Response Planning in the Context
of the Power Supply in Sweden
The national planning procedure regarding the power
Applying Systems Thinking onto Emergency Response Planning - Using Soft Systems Methodology to Structure a National Act in Sweden
supply during an event of power shortage, named
TYREL, was prepared since 2004 and tested by its first
iteration in 2010-2011. Purpose of the procedure is to
gather data on the infrastructure that depends on
electricity. A particular focus lies on the identification
of consumers whose activities are essential for
national society, with regards to health, safety and
interdependent businesses. Consumers are ranked in
advance to ensure immediate decision-making during
an emergency either caused or accompanied by
lacking electricity. Due to the amount of involved
departments and companies, the structured approach
was developed for an ascertainment of priority lists.
The second iteration (2014-2015) was launched
by the following national authorities: (1) the Swedish
Civil Contingencies Agency, (2) Energy Department,
(3) Swedish Energy Markets Inspectorate, and (4)
Swedish national grid provider, Svenska Kraftnät.
National agencies identified electricity consumers at
a national level, and categorised them depending on
their importance to national societal functions. This
categorising was conveyed to the county
administrative board (CAB) where the respective
consumers were located. CABs initiated the operation
within their regional area. They provided information
to municipalities and called for action. Municipalities
identified and ranked key power consumers locally.
Local grid operators assisted with details regarding
technical feasibility. Lists of categorised consumers
were returned to the CAB. Each CAB assessed the
data collected from a regional perspective. If power
lines cross county borders, adjacent counties had to
categorise those lines together. The consumer ranking
was finally forwarded to local, regional and national
grid providers as a basis for their response planning.
(Energy Department 2014)
3.1 Soft Systems Methodology
The methodological research concept used in this
paper is grounded on the Soft Systems Methodology
(SSM) approach developed by Checkland (1972),
aligned with the design-oriented research process of
analysis, design, evaluation, and diffusion used in
information system research (Österle et al., 2011).
The entire process of SSM in its classical form
constitutes seven stages (S) (Checkland, 1989): S1:
Enter the situation that is considered problematic,
S2: Express the problem situation, S3: Formulate root
definitions of the relevant systems, S4: Build
conceptual models of the systems named in the root
definitions, S5: Compare the models with real world
situations, S6: Define possible changes which are
both possible and feasible, S7: Take action to improve
the problem situation.
SSM is arranged in this way to explore different
views stakeholders concerned with a situation can
have, and to achieve shared understanding about
relevant and necessary actions. The object of this
approach is to provide structure to a complex problem
situation. This structure is used to determine activities
that are able to improve the initial situation. SSM is
used with similar intentions, exploring complex
situations and meeting various stakeholder needs,
often in the early stages of systems development
(Cundill et al., 2012; Hakami et al., 2013; Mendoza
and Prabhu, 2006; Sørensen et al., 2010).
3.2 Data Analysis
S1 is performed within and across documentations
and notices about the current planning process. The
literature selected is limited to the outlined case and
given context in order to gain a holistic understanding
of the observed system and its interacting elements.
Different interests in the situation and existing
correlations are investigated alongside. Discovering
significant roles and power structures is part of the
argumentative-deductive analysis, as well as
exploring the system environment and boundaries.
Various criteria are applied to analyse the case.
Thereby, individual interpretations by the system
observer were kept to the margins for a qualitative
text analysis. The epistemological goal of the analysis
is to explore what the current situation characterises.
3.3 Conceptual Model Design
Results from the data analysis constitute the systems-
thinking foundation for the content of the conceptual
system model. Furthermore, the sub-models are based
on each other to obtain, step-by-step, a higher level of
abstraction. The purpose is to detach the thinking
from the current implementation of the planning case
in Sweden, and to yield a generic analysis concept for
complex response planning situations. For reasons of
generality, no explicit modelling language is applied;
instead, the model design is based on the figures of
SSM used in the literature (e.g. Checkland and
Scholes, 1999; Proches and Bodhanya, 2015).
In the course of S2, a ‘Rich Picture’ is created that
represents individuals and groups, their conceivable
concerns, technical and environmental elements, and
interrelations between the components. Researchers’
interaction with the case enriches the model. This can
ICORES 2017 - 6th International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems
require several iterations to deal with structures
(Grochla, 1974; Mingers and Taylor, 1992).
During S3, a root definition is formulated that
represents a generic system model for planning a
power-shortage response. Besides the system
definition, the research considers the elements of
CATWOE (Smyth and Checkland, 1976), see Table1.
Table 1: Elements of CATWOE, after Checkland and
Scholes, 1999, p. 35.
Element Description
Customers The victim or beneficiaries of T
Actors Involved persons in / Performer of T
Conversion of input to output
Big picture that makes the T
meaningful in the context
Owner Ruler who could stop T
Elements outside which it takes as
In S4, an action model is derived from the root
definition, establishing a bridge between concept and
practice. The leading question for building this sub-
model is: What are the purposeful activities necessary
to carry out the specified transformation process, T?
Individual interests and goal conflicts are reduced by
focusing on the generic root definition.
3.4 Evaluation and Further Steps
During S5, the sub-models are compared with a real
world situation. Several methods are suggested to
perform this step; using formal questioning is the
most common (Checkland & Scholes, 1999, p. 43),
and is also used in this study. Several stakeholders
were confronted with the models during interviews.
Eight security coordinators, representing all of the
municipalities of one rural, sparsely-inhabited county
in northern Sweden, participated in qualitative
interviews. In addition, two experts from a local grid
provider were questioned. Seven of the people
interviewed were involved twice, one of them once,
and two had no practical experience in the procedure.
The interviews varied in length but generally took
about one hour, and are recorded and transcribed.
S6 encourages a debate about the changes that are
possible and feasible. Changes to the investigated
situation suggested during the performed interviews
are presented. Furthermore, conceivable changes
regarding the models, in order to adapt them to a
broader context, were also debated with the experts.
S7 motivates actors to take action to improve the
initial situation. Contributions towards achieving a
conceivable improvement of the situation are
indicated in the discussion and conclusion section.
Attending the implementing process of the possible
changes, however, is not part of the current research.
SSM promotes a continuous circle using conscious
critical reflection and learning (Checkland and
Poulter, 2006, p. 61). This circle is supported by the
diffusion of the current research results.
4.1 Results of the Analysis
Throughout the analysis, documentations regarding
the case were examined using the following
questions: (A) Which components exist and are
relevant to the situation? (B) What are the concerns
of the identified components? (C) How do the
components relate to each other? (D) Within what
context are the components embedded?
Several system components were discovered. On
the one side, municipalities, country councils and
national authorities are charged with response
planning. On the other side, national, regional and
local grid providers are responsible for executing the
contingency plan in case of a power shortage. In
addition, local grid providers are also involved in the
planning process, cooperating with the respective
municipalities. On top of this, four national
responsible authorities, as mentioned in 2.2, initiate
the planning procedure. Since the roles of the
components within the situation are different, various
concerns arise; s like: how shall the practical work be
performed? Is the plan feasible, according to
technical conditions of the grid? Who will be affected
by the decisions made? How can the resulting
response plan be used? Moreover, relations between
system components can cause the grounds for further
concerns. They can be based on power structures as
well as on discomfort regarding collaboration or
workload. As a result of the separation between
planning and execution, without adequate feedback,
the commitment of actors may fade away during day-
by-day business. This can also affect awareness about
the contextual frame. Aside from that, the complexity
of the context provides an obstacle to holistic
planning, although the holistic view is a necessary
requirement for investigating all interdependencies.
Since a power shortage can have cascading effects on
other infrastructures, national security, the economy,
and society can all be affected. Not least, power
production and distribution also leads to thoughts
about economic and environmental issues for many
of involved parties. The system components and their
interactions in the context derived from the analysis
Applying Systems Thinking onto Emergency Response Planning - Using Soft Systems Methodology to Structure a National Act in Sweden
Figure 1: Rich Picture of the Problem Situation.
ICORES 2017 - 6th International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems
interactions in the context derived from the analysis
above provide the basis for the representations in the
next section, which elaborates on the conceptual
model performing S2 - S4.
4.2 Conceptual System Model (1-3)
4.2.1 Rich Picture of the Problem Situation
The first sub-model of the conceptual system model
is the Rich Picture, representing the current national
constellation, as shown in Figure 1. It contains the
elements, their relevant concerns, and relations in the
specific situational context discovered during the
analysis. Following SSM, the picture includes several
different concerns and a certain level of subjectivity.
Concerns are exemplary and represent a selection
across the conceivable spectrum of matters. Doubts
that an individual party has can also be a concern of
another party or both parties, exactly as it can be an
inappropriate concern.
Besides the national authorities, which initiate the
planning process, other decision makers and
responsibilities are shown. Their particular concerns
and relations between each other are displayed.
Moreover, the illustration expresses connections and
(inter-) dependencies between society, environment,
other CI, and the national economy, as well as the
industrial and financial sectors. The fact that all of the
actors within the situation also depend on power
delivery is represented by dashed arrows between the
power grid and the actors. Specific notable aspects
appear as labels, figurative expressions, and thoughts.
The latter uses straight lines with balloon messages
assigned to actors. The dotted arrows indicate a
hierarchical order structure within an organisation.
4.2.2 Root Definition of the System
Derived from the case analysis and the Rich Picture,
the core root definition of the generic system is
prepared and provided in Figure 2 below. This
definition represents a generic system to support
decision-making on the controlled disconnection and
delivery of electricity in the case of a power shortfall.
The owner of the system (O) is the government,
because it has the authority to cancel the entire
transformation process (T), which constitutes the core
concept of the system. Furthermore, the government
has a long-term interest at a higher level in the societal
and ethical aspects of the process. The grid operators
are identified as the intended customers (C) of the
system. Their decision-making shall be supported by
adequate means produced during the transformation
process of the system. Various actors (A) operate
inside the conceptual system. These are professionals
with different kinds of experience and decision-
making power. Between them, various structures of
communication and cooperation arise. The
Weltanschauung (W) states that decision-making is
Core Root Definition
A government-owned system, staffed by local, regional and national qualified professionals,
which, considering legal regulations and technical limitations, supports planning and
preparedness. It provides relevant information for decision-making on power supply in the
case of power shortage. The system collects and prioritises power consumers that meet
the criterion
’important to society’
in order to preserve and maintain critical infrastructure
during a crisis situation that makes an impact on local, regional or national society.
C grid operators of all kind (local, regional, national)
A experts and professionals within municipalities, local grid operators, county councils
and national authorities
T need for supported qualified decision-making to enhance resilience – need met by
structured information about power consumers
W planning of decision-making is achievable and enhances emergency management
O government
E legal regulations and technical limitations of the grid structure
Figure 2: Core Root Definition of a Generic System to Support Decisions on Power Allocation.
Applying Systems Thinking onto Emergency Response Planning - Using Soft Systems Methodology to Structure a National Act in Sweden
something that can be planned, which enhances
emergency management. From the system-owner’s
perspective, it may also represent another long-term
interest to support the resilience of the critical system.
Legal regulations as well as technical limitations in
the control abilities of power grid components
constitute the environmental constraints (E) of the
presented generic system.
4.2.3 Action Model
An action model, as Figure 3 demonstrates, is
designed following the statements in the core root
definition, which help to abstract the thinking from
the current implementation. The model presents
relevant actions during response planning to obtain
support for decisions on power allocation in case of a
power shortage. To identify power consumers in need
is one of these actions. Classification criteria are
needed as well as an understanding about how to use
them, observing potential subjectivity. Associated
emergencies and their different requirements for
decision-making and measurement constitute the
crisis scenarios. Moreover, technical limitations to
power grid control have to be investigated. Power
consumers are classified using criteria. Grid-control
abilities affect how consumers can be served.
Figure 3: Conceptual Action Model.
Balancing between importance and a reasonable
level of redundancy within a region influences
information aggregation. Information about power
consumption completes the decision.
The monitoring and documentation of the process
steps, and results of decisions made, are both
necessary to ensure the quality of the process and to
provide a basis for improvement. Defined
performance criteria assist in the appreciation of the
success of the approach and enable the people
responsible to take control actions in case of
variation. Due to the fact that various actors within
the public and private sectors involved in the system,
individual goals can differ and the system owner may
request an adequate control ability. This control
subsystem controls the activities performed during a
transformation process by means of a feedback loop.
4.3 Debate and Further Action
The conceptual system model, containing the sub-
models, was presented during semi-structured face-
to-face interviews. The participants was encouraged
to compare the models with the real-world situation.
Open-ended questions were asked in order to gain
stakeholder perspectives and individual opinions.
Although the Rich Picture was considered to be
complex and full of detail by all at the first glance,
after a short time and closer inspection, the content
and interactions became clear and the participants
themselves became interested in further discussion.
Many wanted to talk about details that they were
particularly interested in. Often, these details were
related to their own experiences and concerns.
However, aspects concerning the work of others were
also noticed with interest. There was a strong
consensus that CI and possible cascade effects caused
by a power shortfall are central points of their
planning work. All of the participants expressed the
opinion that the Rich Picture could be used to
heighten the general public’s awareness regarding the
complexity of the situation. In addition, many said
they would like to see this picture implemented as a
form of interactive training, which would enable the
individuals responsible to explore the situation, as
well as the planning and response procedure, as a
process by themselves, step-by-step.
The root definition and the action model were
approached with slight difficulty by some, and were
perceived as being less accessible than the Rich
Picture. After a short investigation, this opinion
changed fast. Participants could see benefits in the
generality and experienced the activities as valuable
and reasonable. Almost all of the people interviewed
could imagine using the action model in other
emergency preparedness planning settings too. Some
participants mentioned a desire to have a more
straightforward process model providing more
distinct sequences for the activities. All participants
considered a control cycle to be important for their
planning work, which is notably absent in the existing
ICORES 2017 - 6th International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems
emergency response planning procedure.
The participants felt that more time for detailed
consideration, and also further discussion with other
actors involved in the procedure, would be desirable.
Such collaboration can help people to exchange
insights, gain a shared understanding about “expected
performance”, and, not least, to overcome flaws
within the procedure. Further changes and actions
was suggested as follows: (A) The usage of the
resulting response plan needs clarifying, (B) The
expected engagement during the planning activities
needs to be communicated, (C) A feedback-loop has
to be initiated to improve the procedure and to help
actors to stay motivated, (D) Adapted how-to guides
for planning activities can be developed in order to
lower entry barriers, particularly for new personnel.
One recurring concern in studies within emergency
management in Sweden is the need for adequate
information paths: both inside a system, between
actors during planning activities, and outwardly, to
affected people and groups during emergencies
(Enander et al., 2015; Hansén, 2009; Olofsson, 2011;
Palm, 2009). Formal and informal practices to reach
dedicated stakeholder groups have been presented.
This paper provides an informal basis for
establishing communication and encouraging
collaboration. First, a Rich Picture was designed,
based on the literature analysis. It visualises the
structures and (inter-) dependencies between the
stakeholders involved, and their communication
paths related to the planning process. All known
actors are included and their concerns are
exemplified. Since the space is limited, just a few
issues are specified. However, they do not exclude
additional relevant concerns, nor are the formulated
thoughts limited to one special group of stakeholders.
During the interview, one participant remarked that
the secrecy ascribed to the exchanged information
was not noted in the picture. Aside from the fact that
this can be done easily, the intention during modelling
was to keep the complexity manageable for the
beholder. Such supplementary information can be
valuable and readily interpretable in interactive
representations or adapted views concerned with
specific aspects, such as information security.
Deduced from the case and problem situation, the
core root definition of the generic system was then
outlined. The system definition abstracts from the
concrete real-world setting, and focuses in on the
purpose and circumstances of a generic system, as
well as on responsible actors within their different
roles. While establishing the core root definition,
abstractions are made to obtain a generally valid
system definition, with respect to the aim intended by
the initial case.
The action model completes the conceptual soft
systems analysis model. Meaningful and generally
valid activities are developed by an investigation of
the core root definition with respect to the research
question. The model provides insights for improving
collaborative response planning to power shortages.
The people interviewed appreciated the value of the
generic action model during overarching national
response planning. They also perceived its usefulness
in other contexts, such as water and fuel emergencies,
and even in a more holistic approach for emergency
response planning generally. The action model can be
adapted to other national or sector-based contexts,
e.g., by using modified keywords. It can also be used
as a tool to consider conceivable dependencies and
local, regional, and national resilience. It makes no
claims over the due sequence of activities within an
associated transformation process respective process
model. Therefore, developing a (reference) process
model can be an activity supporting change,
according to S7. In consequence, the level of
flexibility will be reduced for the advantage of lower
entry obstacles and a relieved work flow. In the
specification of such a model, responsibilities should
be formulated and the adequate implementation of a
feedback loop considered. In addition, security
concerns can be specified, as well as determining
authorisation levels regarding access to information.
Furthermore, another control cycle can be
modelled in addition to the action model. This second
control cycle controls the kind of monitoring, the
success criteria, and the control actions needed in
order to enable supervision of the controlling
activities. Key indicators that facilitate the controlling
of the level of success are called the ‘3 Es’ in SSM.
Those are efficacy, efficiency and effectiveness, and
can be added to the activities and the first control
cycle of the action model presented in Section 4.2.3.
Thus, it can be assessed whether the measurements
work, whether the right activities are performed to
meet long-term interests, and whether resource
allocation is sparing (Checkland, 1989). The indicator
efficiency needs careful consideration in the context
of power allocation, since efficiency and resilience
are slightly contrary concepts. The government
should not only put trust in communities’ ability to
adapt and be resilient (Bulley, 2013); it also has to
encourage partnership and communication in order to
Applying Systems Thinking onto Emergency Response Planning - Using Soft Systems Methodology to Structure a National Act in Sweden
reach the favoured collaboration before, during and
after a crisis (Powley, 2009; Ödlund, 2010). Such
indicators were not detected through the case analysis
and interviews. Within the paper, performance
indicators are not substantiated due to the generality
of the conceptual soft system analysis model.
Since power allocation for power consumers,
besides technical constraints, comes with ethical and
political concerns, the SSM approach was considered
to be informative by the respondents in this paper. As
described in Section 4.2, the approach provides a
means for structuring the complex situation of
collaborative national response planning. The case
reported on herein, S
TYREL, shows that emergency
response planning is characterised by multiple
stakeholders providing different views and
perspectives in a distributed environment. Section 4.3
suggests that SSM enabled an open mind-set among
the people interviewed, facilitating discussion and
suggestions for improvements. As such, increased
comprehension of this type can provide a good basis
for further improvement of organisational learning
and knowledge management. In consequence, these
improvements can provide a solid support for
achieving reliable decision processes and support for
decisions. Thus, applying SSM in the current stage of
the emergency preparedness and response planning
process resulted in an improved understanding of the
complexity of the process and the relationships
between the involved parties.
This research is supported by the Swedish Energy
Department alongside the project: “Från myndighet
till medborgare och tillbaka: En studie av samverkan
och kommunikation inom ramen för Styrel”.
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Applying Systems Thinking onto Emergency Response Planning - Using Soft Systems Methodology to Structure a National Act in Sweden