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Research Proposal
Abstract Research Proposal Chapter 1 Chapter 2 References Index Survey



Thesis Proposal (100 point)

Proposed title :
Incorporating Delphi technique into Soft System Methodology (SSM) for predicting trend analysis. Case study :National Information Technology (IT) Policy in 3 South East Asia Countries.
Masterate student :Oni Bibin Bintoro, Ingenieur degree(B.Eng, The Hague), DipSci(Massey University, NZ)
Supervisor:Mr. Barry Jackson

Proposed start date :March 1998


SSM is a learning-oriented methodology that allow assessment of the issues involved in an unstructured problem situation through the development of models of perception of reality, establishing a basis for rich debate about possible problem
interventions that will be both desirable for system improvement yet culturally feasible to enact. 7 Stages of SSM: 1. entering the problem situation 2. expressing the problem situation 3. Defining relevant human activity systems 4. constructing conceptual models of these systems. 5 comparing models to reality 6. defining desirable and feasible interventions. 7 enacting changes (checkland, 1985b). This soft approach is based on learning about human affairs through inquiry into issues. The goal of soft system modeling is to assess the logic of systems rather than to engineer them. Soft system thinking is a broad approach to problem analysis, which incorporates the hard systems approach as a special case (Checkland, 1985a). It is acknowledged that SSM is user-dependent and open to interpretation and it is suggested that more rigor and subtlety should be used in dealing with SSM. One suggestion, the merger of approaches and tools for SSM should be seen as complimentary options available to users, and users should not be incapacitated by such suggestion. In general, SSM, as a user-dependent methodology, will continue to attract different interpretations and applications, thus sustaining interest in the methodology, stimulating debate, and generating learning (Kreher, 1993).

In support of the different interpretation and application of SSM, in this research proposal, SSM will incorporate the Delphi technique as a special case. The Delphi is a judgemental technique of forecasting whereby a forecast is prepared by questioning experts in the area. This method uses an independent surveying of a group of experts. This technique is most suitable when a long range forecast is needed (Jain 1985). The steps to be followed in generic Delphi forecasting are: 1. Select "experts" in the area. 2. Contact the selected experts and ask for their forecasts of the product of interest. 3. Compute the average and range of forecast of the panel. 4. Contact the panel again and provide the consensus and range of forecast, asking if they wish to revised their forecast. 5. Compute the average and range of their revised forecasts. The Delphi technique calls for averaging of forecast furnished by different experts using an appropriate method (Goldfisher, 1993).
The Delphi technique has been used for many purposes. Among its advantages is insight into undeveloped subject areas. And the area of trying to translate scientific knowledge into an informed judgement on evaluating and analyzing decision options is clearly a potential one for the Delphi technique application (Buck, 1993).

To illustrate the applicability of SSM with incorporating Delphi approach in the context of (Information Systems (IS) policy, a description of a case of a National IS policy effort in Southeast Asia countries will be presented. In order to demonstrate the power of SSM, by extending SSM consideration of it’s stage 5 and 6, comparing models reality and defining desirable and feasible interventions will use the Delphi technique. The focus of case study is on identifying the government’s priorities for Information Technology(IT), given the criteria identified by the experts and the national goal of developing the information industry.

In recent times, much has been said about the role that government should play in National Information Technology policy (Ein-Dor, Philip., Myers, Michael D. and Raman, K.S.,1997). National Information Infrastructure (NII) from vice president Al Gore in USA and Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) from prime minister of Malaysia are two examples of national IT policy, countries like Australia and New Zealand did not has any national IT policy. But many countries in Southeast Asia has put the future of their country in this national IT policy (Cash. Jr. J.I., McFarlan, F.W. & McKenney,J.L.,1992). for example : Multimedia Super Corridor in Malaysia, IT2000 and Singapore ONE in Singapore and Nusantara21 in Indonesia. The belief that SSM is powerful tool to understand national policy issues. This study will examine the national IT policy process, describe the motivations, depict the constraints, and elicit a prognosis for the future for this national IT policy in Southeast Asia countries.

Purpose and strategies:

The purpose of this study is to incorporate new technique in SSM and describe their use in application. To understand the developments leading to the SSM with Delphi technique report and its recommendations, it is necessary to examine the context in which this methodology were applied. This research in stage 1 and 2 of SSM (problem situation and expressing problem situation) will conduct literature review, survey and face to face interview with selected experts from the 3 countries of Southeast Asia. The make up of this expert is a cross section of key players (experts) from the 3 countries of Southeast Asia. The stage 3 and 4 (root analysis and conceptual model) of the research will be done by researcher at Massey University. The stage 5 and 6 of SSM (comparing conceptual model with real world and desirable and feasible change) will incorporate Delphi technique by sending questionnaire and more face to face interview with more number or same number of selected experts as in stage 1 and 2. A study uses SSM to discern perspective among and within selected experts responsible for formulating and implementing national IT policy Selected groups of experts will be chosen for the analysis ;academics, government officials and business person from IT companies. Delphy study can canvas the view of experts in 3 countries on how they see their national IT policy in 5 years time. It assume that SSM could help IT policy strategist understand the different perspectives within the implementation community, and hence craft more realistic strategy. In the context of walking through stages of SSM, it is possible that whole process of SSM can be repeated several times. In the context of SSM study, It is a look at how SSM as user dependent model is actually done and exercised in trend analysis or IT policy analysis.

Expected outcomes:

The findings of this study will add to the SSM literature and National IT policy literature. Also, understanding how eloquent SSM is actually transcribed into practice will be the primary outcome. This study is also following a unique position in the way Southeast Asia countries relay to their National IT policy for their economic development. More importantly, these findings will set the stage for future research. Part of this study will report on some of the provisional findings that point to some interesting times ahead.

Objectives of the Master program

These objectives, in approximate order of focus, are to:
1. Examine a soft system methodology, which will be incorporated with Delphi technique.
2. Producing working implementation of such systems by carry out a study for trend analysis of National IT policy in 3 South
East Asia countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore).

Tentative Chapter Breakdown

At this stage the following structure is proposed for the thesis:

1. Introduction
2. Literature review
3. Proposed working implementation
4. Case Studies
5. Conclusions from case studies. The models and techniques used for the studies will be evaluated and some improvements
6. Summary. Overall conclusions and suggestions for further research.

Time Frame

At this stage the following time frame is tentatively suggested:

Time Event
March 1998 Start Master research. Finish Research proposal and research design project
May 1998 Finish literature review. Prepare the groundwork and collect issues (3 weeks to Southeast Asia/SEA countries)
August 1998 Complete frame work for study and send questionnaire
Oct-Desember 1998 Do case study and interview in south east Asia countries (2 month to SEA countries)
January 1999 Start writing the thesis
February 1999 Complete Master thesis


It is anticipated that one publications will occur during the course of Master program.


A number of issues will be explored as part of this thesis relating to SSM application for trend analysis. First issues regarding when incorporating Delphi technique into SSM are in fact appropriate will be examined. Second special issues relating to implementation issues for expressing such methodology will be discussed. Case studies will be used to validate the proposed methodology.

While Soft System can be used for most type of human purposeful activity, They still operate under the constraint of certain niches. It is expected that incorporating Delphi technique into SSM will be greater to any application, but this assumption remains to be proven.

When used correctly SSM as user dependent methodology permit the use of more than one approach or technique, lead to synergistic benefits. However, there is little research on exactly how these SSM can use other approach.

Once a SSM using Delphi technique in stage 5 and 6 of SSM, is developed, the issue of implementation arises. For certain types such SSM, specifically those involving communication between many experts (parties) may be suitable.

It is these three issues: How SSM as dependent user methodology can use other approach in their methodology, the implementation of this methodology, and the case study will be used to validate the process of incorporating Delphi technique in stage 5 and 6 of SSM.

The issues under national IT policy in 3 countries of Southeast Asia at this stage is not really clear i.e.: Multimedia, Software industry, IT education etc.

Budget and Funding

The expected time required to complete this project is approximately 1 year or less. Selected experts to be interviewed (in 3 countries of Southeast Asia). I expect to continue to use my funding from Ministry of Foreign and Trade affair and my salary from BPP Teknologi(Agency for assessment and application of technology). There will be no funding request.


Buck, Andrew J., Gross, Meir., Hakim, Simon., Wein blatt, J. (1993) Using the Delphi process to analyze social policy implementation: A post hoc case from vocational rehabilitation. Policy Sciences. (26)4: 271-288.
Cash. Jr. J.I., McFarlan, F.W. & McKenney, J.L. (1992). Corporate Information Systems Management: Text and cases. Illinois, Irwin.
Checkland, Peter. (1985a). From optimizing to learning: A Development of System Thinking for the 1990s. Journal of the Operational Research Society. (36)9: 757- 767.
Checkland, Peter. (1985b). Achieving ‘Desirable and Feasible’ Change: An Application of Soft System Methodology. Journal of the Operational Research Society. (36)9: 821-831.
Ein-Dor, Philip., Myers, Michael D., Raman, K.S. (1997). Information Technology in Three Small Developed Countries.
Journal of Management of Information Systems.(13)4: 61-89.
Goldfisher, Ken. (1992-1993). Modified Delphi: A concept for new product forecasting. Journal of Business Forecasting.(11)4: 10-11.
Jain, C L. (1985-1986). Delphi -- Forecast with Experts’ Opinion. Journal of Business Forecasting. (4)4: 22-23.
Kreher, H. (1993). Critique of two contributions to soft systems methodology. European Journal of Information Systems. (2)4: 304-308.
Madu, C.N., Kuei, Chu-Hua., and Madu, Assumpta N.(1991). Setting Priorities for the IT Industry in Taiwan - A Delphi Study. Long Range Planning. (24)5: 105-118


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Last modified: December 08, 1998