Seeing One's Role as a Cause or Effect

Leo Smyth

Professor of Management, National University of Ireland

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003


This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: To quote Morgan, "If you want to understand the environment, you've got to start by understanding yourself." If you want to change someone's understanding of the environment, you've got to start with changing their understanding of themself. To some extent our understanding of the environment is always a projection of ourselves, which is why of course we have tended to fish out large tracts of the ocean. Because if my understanding of myself as a fisherman is "I'm somebody who goes and fishes," and I don't have a systemic understanding of the relationship between myself and the environment then I'm simply going to be driven to go and fish.

Q: Do you mean to say that if you don't have an understanding of the system that you're not likely to fish in a manner that's sustainable and so you'll deplete the resources?

A: Absolutely. Without some systemic understanding, we run into situations where the easiest thing to do is to blame somebody else. We easily trip into these types of games, in the game theory sense or social dilemmas in the sense that Dawes uses it. Underlying the difficulties that you are I are in, there is actually a systemic relationship that we may actually be making worse by our attempts to negotiate our conflict.