Boundaries & Worldviews

Jul 04, 2022
New York

We are all different, we all observe the world differently for a number of reasons. Understanding the meaning of boundaries and worldviews can help us understand the world as other’s see it. This can assist in conflict resolution, negotiation, and communication.

Boundaries (Churchman, 1971; Blackmore, 2010; Ison, 2017) are determined by the observer; they are the borders of the system. Used to define where action will be taken within the context of a situation of interest, the relationship between the inside and the outside of the system. Defined by an observer, confusion can arise if boundaries are not clearly expressed. Multiple stakeholders add complexity if involved in a situation. Misunderstandings can lead to divisions and be a source of separation or disconnection amongst stakeholders.


Worldviews are an individual’s conception or understanding of the World around them. They affect an observer’s choice of boundaries and how they view situations. Every person has differing worldviews which can affect observations of situations of concern. They are the filters to our understanding of our surroundings, often determined through pre-learned dispositions. That said, they can be transformed to a greater or lesser extent.


Boundary judgements are unique to an individual as we each have a personal history. Our personal values will determine what is included within a system, meaning that we may see the same situation differently from each other. Boundary judgements can be explicit or implicit and only be deemed rational when all stakeholders are in agreement.

Boundary critique (Ulrich, 1983) offers a rational process when considering the practical considerations of boundary judgements. The aims of boundary critique are:

  1.       Identify sources underpinning boundary judgements.
  2.       Question boundary judgements in order to identify options.
  3.       Challenge unqualified claims of knowledge.

 Stakeholder participation is vital to success and when applied appropriately may assist in closing the difference gap between stakeholders.

Boundary setting (Churchman, 1979, p. 79; Ulrich, 1983) is a methodology that can be used to engage with situations and in the design of a system. Such questions can aid in identifying sources of motivation, control, motivation and legitimation.

I haver added a lot of references there for you so that you have an opportunity to research yourself and come to your own conclusions whether this can be useful in the VUCA world that we live in.



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