Special Issue "System Dynamics: Insights and Policy Innovation"

A special issue of Systems (ISSN 2079-8954).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Khalid Saeed
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Social Science and Policy Studies Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA 01609, USA
Interests: system dynamics; economics; public policy; supply chains; healthcare; education
Dr. Karim J. Chichakly
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Isee Systems, Inc., Lebanon, NH 03766, USA
Interests: system dynamics; economics; public policy; supply chains; healthcare; education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Systems invites you to revive the original purpose of system dynamics – to bring new insights into understanding persistent problems and create policy innovations that make those problems go away. The models we encourage you to present need not precisely replicate history and give point forecasts of the future but should highlight a specific feature of reality representing a system appropriate for a purposeful analysis of a pervasive problem. Your models should be parsimonious, yet they should effectively highlight a problematic pattern – like in impressionist art. The policy innovations these models deliver should be operational, meaning they should not just be normative statements but should be able to be implemented through the policy levers available in the system.

Jay Forrester emphasized representing models in an integral format, since integration happens in real life and is a verifiable process. The differential equation format is equivalent but not verifiable. A non-verifiable representation leads to non-verifiable models that can often deviate from reality and offer unrealistic remedies, like system change, that cannot be implemented. We encourage you to represent your models in the verifiable integral format yet communicate them effectively so people unfamiliar with our software can understand and replicate them.

Forrester also encouraged us to address ubiquitous problems, with transferrable structure, so the insights our models provide can be widely applied and our work can make a difference in the complex world we live in. We encourage you to follow that lead.

We aim to collect 10–12 articles in this issue that are above expectations and can help us revive the insightful traditional practice of system dynamics. We look forward to receiving your submissions for consideration.

Prof. Dr. Khalid Saeed
Dr. Karim J. Chichakly
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Systems is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • System dynamics
  • Systems thinking
  • Dynamic modeling
  • Computer simulation
  • Business management
  • Operations management
  • Public policy
  • Environment healthcare

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Transforming a Liability into an Asset: A System Dynamics Model for Free-Ranging Dog Population Management
Systems 2021, 9(3), 56; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/systems9030056 - 29 Jul 2021
Viewed by 475
Abstract
Using Indian free-ranging dogs (FRD) as a case study, we propose a novel intervention of social integration alongside previously proposed methods for dealing with FRD populations. Our study subsumes population dynamics, funding avenues, and innovative strategies to maintain FRD welfare and provide societal [...] Read more.
Using Indian free-ranging dogs (FRD) as a case study, we propose a novel intervention of social integration alongside previously proposed methods for dealing with FRD populations. Our study subsumes population dynamics, funding avenues, and innovative strategies to maintain FRD welfare and provide societal benefits. We develop a comprehensive system dynamics model, featuring identifiable parameters customizable for any management context and imperative for successfully planning a widescale FRD population intervention. We examine policy resistance and simulate conventional interventions alongside the proposed social integration effort to compare monetary and social rewards, as well as costs and unintended consequences. For challenging socioeconomic ecological contexts, policy resistance is best overcome by shifting priority strategically between social integration and conventional techniques. The results suggest that social integration can financially support a long-term FRD intervention, while transforming a “pest” population into a resource for animal-assisted health interventions, law enforcement, and conservation efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue System Dynamics: Insights and Policy Innovation)
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Article
Integrated Policy Solutions for Water Scarcity in Agricultural Communities of the American Southwest
Systems 2021, 9(2), 26; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/systems9020026 - 17 Apr 2021
Viewed by 851
Abstract
The conventional approach of policy interventions in water management that focus on the portions of the system that directly relate to water often lead to unintended consequences that potentially exacerbate water scarcity issues and present challenges to the future viability of many rural [...] Read more.
The conventional approach of policy interventions in water management that focus on the portions of the system that directly relate to water often lead to unintended consequences that potentially exacerbate water scarcity issues and present challenges to the future viability of many rural agricultural communities. This paper deploys a system dynamics model to illustrate how expanding the policy space of hydrology models to include socioeconomic feedbacks could address these challenges. In this regard, policies that can potentially mitigate general water scarcity in a region of the American Southwest in southern New Mexico are examined. We selected and tested policies with the potential to diminish water scarcity without compromising the system’s economic performance. These policies included supporting choices that reduce or limit the expansion of water-intensive crops, promoting workforce participation, encouraging investment in capital, and regulating land use change processes. The simulation results, after the proposed boundary expansion, unveiled intervention options not commonly exercised by water decision-makers, bolstering the argument that integrated approaches to water research that include socioeconomic feedbacks are crucial for the study of agricultural community resilience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue System Dynamics: Insights and Policy Innovation)
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Article
Cancer as a System Dysfunction
Systems 2021, 9(1), 14; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/systems9010014 - 09 Feb 2021
Viewed by 851
Abstract
In this paper, we describe a system dynamics model that views cancer as a dysfunction of the cellular system rather than as an ailment of cells. Our experiments with the model replicate the propagation of the ailment and the impacts of the treatments. [...] Read more.
In this paper, we describe a system dynamics model that views cancer as a dysfunction of the cellular system rather than as an ailment of cells. Our experiments with the model replicate the propagation of the ailment and the impacts of the treatments. It presents a concept that deviates from the pervasive view of cancer as a cell malfunction that has led to treatments aiming to destroy the rogue cells. It points to more holistic treatment options aiming at reforming cell interaction so the system can contain the growth of cancer cells. Further research is needed to explore the details for such options. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue System Dynamics: Insights and Policy Innovation)
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Article
Simulating a Watershed-Scale Strategy to Mitigate Drought, Flooding, and Sediment Transport in Drylands
Systems 2019, 7(4), 53; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/systems7040053 - 28 Nov 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2943
Abstract
Drylands today are facing a landscape-scale water storage problem. Throughout the increasingly arid Southwest of the United States, vegetation loss in upland watersheds is leading to floods that scour soils and transport sediment that clogs downstream riparian areas and agricultural infrastructure. The resulting [...] Read more.
Drylands today are facing a landscape-scale water storage problem. Throughout the increasingly arid Southwest of the United States, vegetation loss in upland watersheds is leading to floods that scour soils and transport sediment that clogs downstream riparian areas and agricultural infrastructure. The resulting higher flow energies and diminished capacity to infiltrate flood flows are depleting soil water storage across the landscape, negatively impacting agriculture and ecosystems. Land and water managers face challenges to reverse the trends due to the complex interacting social and biogeophysical root causes. Presented here is an integrative system dynamics model that simulates innovative and transformative management scenarios. These scenarios include the natural and hydro-social processes and feedback dynamics critical for achieving long-term mitigation of droughts, flooding, and sediment transport. This model is a component of the Flood Flow Connectivity to the Landscape framework, which integrates spatial and hydrologic process models. Scenarios of support and collaboration for land management innovations are simulated to connect flood flow to the floodplains throughout the watershed to replenish soil storage and shallow groundwater aquifers across regional scales. The results reveal the management policy levers and trade-off balances critical for restoring management and water storage capacity to the system for long-term resilience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue System Dynamics: Insights and Policy Innovation)
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Article
A System Dynamics Model Examining Alternative Wildfire Response Policies
Systems 2019, 7(4), 49; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/systems7040049 - 04 Oct 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3279
Abstract
In this paper, we develop a systems dynamics model of a coupled human and natural fire-prone system to evaluate changes in wildfire response policy. A primary motivation is exploring the implications of expanding the pace and scale of using wildfires as a forest [...] Read more.
In this paper, we develop a systems dynamics model of a coupled human and natural fire-prone system to evaluate changes in wildfire response policy. A primary motivation is exploring the implications of expanding the pace and scale of using wildfires as a forest restoration tool. We implement a model of a forested system composed of multiple successional classes, each with different structural characteristics and propensities for burning at high severity. We then simulate a range of alternative wildfire response policies, which are defined as the combination of a target burn rate (or inversely, the mean fire return interval) and a predefined transition period to reach the target return interval. We quantify time paths of forest successional stage distributions, burn severity, and ecological departure, and use departure thresholds to calculate how long it would take various policies to restore forest conditions. Furthermore, we explore policy resistance where excessive rates of high burn severity in the policy transition period lead to a reversion to fire exclusion policies. Establishing higher burn rate targets shifted vegetation structural and successional classes towards reference conditions and suggests that it may be possible to expand the application of wildfires as a restoration tool. The results also suggest that managers may be best served by adopting strategies that define aggressive burn rate targets but by implementing policy changes slowly over time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue System Dynamics: Insights and Policy Innovation)
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Article
An Examination of the Influence of Household Financial Decision Making on the US Housing Market Crisis
Systems 2015, 3(4), 378-398; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/systems3040378 - 08 Dec 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3687
Abstract
This paper investigates the impact of what the extant literature has come to view as some of the major causes of the 2007 US housing market crisis. In particular we investigate the hypothesized effect of, lax financial regulations, the “savings glut” that is [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the impact of what the extant literature has come to view as some of the major causes of the 2007 US housing market crisis. In particular we investigate the hypothesized effect of, lax financial regulations, the “savings glut” that is invested in the US from abroad, government support for increased home ownership, rising homeowners’ equity due to the real-estate boom, expansionary monetary policy, and bankruptcy reform. We examine how these hypothesized causes, working through household and institutional level decision-making, based on information availability and incentives, influenced the outcomes in the market for homes. Using a system dynamics model of household finance, we overlay the hypothesized causes chronologically to extrapolate their real-world simultaneous impact and test the hypothesis that they could have together led to the crisis, by simulating and checking against observed data. We find that with the exception of lax financial regulations, each cause by itself provides only a partial explanation of the crisis. Interestingly, the controversial expansionary monetary policy of the Federal Reserve, blamed by some for fueling the crisis, actually prevents the housing market boom from becoming too large. However on the downside, it discourages household savings and causes the fall in home prices to be deeper, due to weak household finances that result from low savings. We confront our model’s assumptions and outcomes with US economic data. We find our model assumptions are justified and simulation results are strongly supported by the data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue System Dynamics: Insights and Policy Innovation)
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