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In the 新明解国語辞典 第七版 for the entry for じゅん じょ【順序】there is the following definition:

一連の物事において、始め(その前)に何が、その次には何が位置するかという、あとさきの関係。(1.)

I don't understand the か before という.

Had it been me (with the current limited knowledge of Japanese I now possess), I would have formulated it like follows (i.e. simply without か):

一連の物事において、始め(その前)に何が、その次には何が位置するという、あとさきの関係。(2.)

Rationale: the という entry of the DoBJG (p. 486) says that what precedes it explains what follows. Thus the main block is あとさきの関係. To explain it the following is prepended: 始め(その前)に何が、その次には何が位置する. A simple affirmative (i.e. no interrogative) does the job.

Upon further reflection I reached a different thought. Maybe the author wanted to express the following (here done in literal fashion): […] when there is something at the beginning/before and something else after (as opposed to all other cases where there is no such distinction between what is there before and after, here succinctly expressed with か), that kind of before-after relationship.

Question 1: is this interpretation of か correct? If not, what is?

Question 2: If (and only if) sentence (2.) is also grammatically correct, does (2.) mean what I intended it to mean: […] when there is something at the beginning/before and something else after, that kind of before-after relationship. Or am I way off? Does it mean something else? In other words, what is the difference between (1.) and (2.)?

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一連の物事において、始め(その前)に何が、その次には何が位置するか

I'd say this is an embedded question. You can say か nominalizes. So the phrase means "What comes first and what comes next". It's not so strange that you might want a noun to equate to the noun 関係.

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