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System Dynamics
NEWSLETTER

Volume 24 – Number 3        October 2011


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Chapter and Special Interest Group News

Australasia Chapter

The Australasian Chapter has had an exciting year of 2010-2011, with significant progress on current projects and endeavours on new explorations.

One of the highlights of this year’s progress included the developments in modelling the dynamics of biospheres and ecosystems in Asia, with a number of related learning labs close to completion. With a focus on the well-being of our environment, our chapter was also dedicated to systems’ applications on healthcare. Among such efforts, we have had major developments in modelling policies in tobacco, in conjunction with a major smoking cessation campaign in New Zealand. Outputs from this study should better inform the public and in particular the tobacco industry. In addition to smoking dynamics, healthcare practitioners and related issues are featured in a series of studies including care for cardiovascular disease patients, aged-care, and also dementia cases.

On the business and management end of systems applications, key studies are featured on business decision-making and issues related to supply chain collaborations.

Last but not least, an upcoming key event is the Australia and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference 2011 in December, to be held in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. The conference will feature a significant involvement of systems-related research with a global perspective. Exciting discussions are to be expected which could well contribute to the next International Conference of the System Dynamics Society.

I shall update y’all with new progress in our endeavours.

Submitted by: Anson Li


Benelux Chapter

The Benelux Chapter of the System Dynamics Society is preparing its third conference, “Responsible Decision Making in a Complex Society” which will take place on February 10th, 2012 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Papers to be presented must address policy-makers and managers’ awareness that pursuing the single goal of profit making is no longer the business model for the future. Companies are increasingly required to create multiple rather than single values. In addition to profit or shareholder value, they have to create sustainability, personnel development, societal relevance, and employment opportunities. The conference will address how system dynamics can support decision making on these complex issues. Prof. Dr. George Richardson will be one of the keynote speakers. The organizing team consists of Inge Bleijenbergh, Andreas Größler, Hubert Korzilius, Etiënne Rouwette, and Phillip Wünderlich. Paper proposals can be sent to i.bleijenbergh@fm.ru.nl.

Submitted by: Inge Bleijenbergh


Economics Chapter

The Economics Chapter pursues a fourfold mission:

  1. To identify, extend, and unify knowledge contributing to the understanding and betterment of economic systems through the use of system dynamics.
  2. To promote the development of the fields of economics and system dynamics.
  3. To encourage and develop educational programs related to the behavior of economic systems.
  4. To promote pluralism within the economics profession.

Being a huge chapter with about 180 members (half practitioners, half academics, 12% of them female) spread over 46 countries and 76 universities, there is one opportunity per year to physically meet: the International Conference of the System Dynamics Society. Beyond that, the Chapter maintains a webpage, has a discussion forum and, since the 2011 conference, a LinkedIn group for its members.


Brian Dangerfield, Martin Schaffernicht and Bob Cavana

This year, more that 40 papers were submitted to economics thread at the conference, and we were able to accept 16 of the submissions. At the annual business meeting, we extensively discussed how we can take advantage of the internet to foster collaboration between members with similar or complementary interests. We decided to create a LinkedIn group, and in a separate meeting, there was the opportunity to dialog about possible themes of collaboration. This included a possible Economics Special Issue of System Dynamics Review and a Bonus Day session (Friday) on selected economics topics [suggestions please!] at the next International Conference in St Gallen, Switzerland in July 2012.

The Chapter also presented a poster, dealing mainly with the Chapter’s large and diverse dimensions:

We are looking forward to develop some further collaboration amongst members and to report our progress next July in St. Gallen!

For the coming 12 months, the officers are:

  • President: Bob Cavana, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (bob.cavana@vuw.ac.nz);
  • President Elect: Klaus John, Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany (kd@john-weltner.de);
  • Past President: Martin Schaffernicht, University of Talca, Chile (martin@utalca.cl).

Submitted by: Martin Schaffernicht and Bob Cavana


German Chapter

In its fifth year since the founding of the German Chapter (Deutsche Gesellschaft für System Dynamics e.V.), there are 113 personal members and five institutional members. Growth has significantly slowed down in the last three years and might level off in the future. In total, about 290 interested people receive the Chapter’s newsletter.

Within the last 12 months, the Chapter has hosted five events, one large national and four regional meetings. The regional meetings took place in Frankfurt/Main and Munich and provided system dynamicists with the opportunity to meet informally with other system dynamicists. During these meetings, one participant provided a brief presentation on a specific dynamic modeling issue or project which was then discussed. Afterwards, the meeting continued in the relaxed atmosphere of a nearby restaurant.

The Chapter’s large national event, the year’s Annual Conference, was held on 25–26 May, 2011 in Wolfsburg in North Germany. It was jointly organized with the Niedersächsische Forschungszentrum Fahrzeugtechnik (NFF) at Technische Universität Braunschweig. The conference took place for a day and a half in the futuristic-looking building of the AutoUni, Wolfsburg. This event combined a set of presentations, a modeling session, and enough time for discussions and meeting other system dynamicists. Professor Paolo Goncalves gave the keynote speech. A highlight was the presentation of the 4th Gert-von-Kortzfleisch-Award. It was awarded to Robert Weikl, Robert Bosch GmbH, for his system dynamics based analysis on the diffusion of various types of engines in the German automobile market.

Submitted by: Jürgen Strohhecker


India Chapter

The next Annual Conference of the System Dynamics Society’s India Chapter will be held from March 19-20, 2012 at Symbiosis University, Pune, Maharashtra. Details are available on the Chapter website.

Since the first annual meeting in May 2011, there has been an increase in new member enrollment and an increase in interest in our activities. As part of the resolution of the previous meeting, Chapter members have decided to focus efforts on promoting system dynamics education in the formal education system; this will be done in collaboration with organizations like the Systems Research Institute and Symbiosis.

The India Chapter constitution and a list of roles and responsibilities have been posted on the Chapter website. The executive council would like support on organizing regional meetings; if there is interest in this please contact the Chapter at: indiasysdyn@gmail.com.

Submitted by: Karan Khosla


Japan Chapter

I would like to report about the latest activities of the Japan Chapter.

But before that, let me brief you on the general situation of Japan, which I assume you are more interested to hear. The earthquake hit the northern part of Japan on March 11, 2011. The ensuing tsunami killed about 20,000 people (including those considered missing). We appreciate the worldwide support that came to Japan. Japan is now working as a whole on the recovery effort. I am confident that we can overcome this disaster.

Moving on to the Japan Chapter activities, needless to say, it has been difficult this year. We were supposed to have an annual conference in April, which was postponed to November 12, 2011. Currently we have accepted eight presentations. We will discuss in the conference, 1) how can system dynamics contribute to Japan’s recovery from the disaster, and 2) what we should do to disseminate system dynamics within a short span of years.

I would be more than happy to hear your opinion concerning these topics.

Thank you for your attention.

Submitted by Akira Uchino


Latin America Chapter

The Latin America Chapter meeting that took place at the International Conference of the System Dynamics Society in Washington, DC was an opportunity to get in touch with not only colleagues but also friends in our community.

This year’s Chapter meeting had the presence of 22 colleagues coming from different Latin American countries such as Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile and México and others where colleagues are studying or working.

The main topic of discussion was the chapter’s Spanish language online journal, Revista de Dinámica de Sistemas.

At this meeting, it was decided that Isaac Dyner will be the next editor. We would like to recognize the wonderful job done by Martin Schaffernicht, the leader of this project. We will strive to produce special issues of the journal in order to enhance its attractiveness. Our main goal for the next three years is for it to be indexed in the SCIELO database, which is the main database for Latin America.

The meeting also addressed the 9th Latin American System Dynamics Conference which will take place in Brasilia, Brasil, November 16-18, 2011 and the organization of the System Dynamics workshop with the support of the System Dynamics Society. Paulo Gonçalves will deliver a two-day intermediate-to-advanced workshop in system dynamics as a preview to the conference on November 14-15. For more information about the agenda and the registration process please go to the conference website.

If you would like to join our distribution list please send an email to gloria.perez@itesm.mx.

See you in Brasilia, November 2011!

Submitted by: Gloria Pérez Salazar


Model Analysis Special Interest Group

At the 2011 Conference, the SIG Model Analysis Group had a number of activities including (a) a Poster Presentation and (b) the Annual Meeting and Roundtable. At the poster presentation, there was a good level of new member interest in the ideas behind the group, with many people confirming the need for formal feedback analysis to automatically identify shifts in loop dominance. A LinkedIn presence is now up and running with almost 30 members (Model Analysis Special Interest Group of the System Dynamics Society).

While historically the initial focus of this SIG was on the key underlying mathematical approaches (Eigenvalue analysis, Eigenvector Analysis, PPM), it was agreed that the group could also widen the scope of study to include more induction-type methods which used the power of computer algorithms to identify behavior modes (for example, work presented by Eric Pruyt at the conference, and also the recent published work by Gönenç Yucel and Yaman Barlas in the System Dynamics Review). In essence, the group could then accommodate a spectrum of investigations ranging from formal mathematical analysis to machine learning methods, and the field would clearly benefit from the results of these interactions. The importance of realistically framing approaches in terms of applications and limitations was also emphasized, as was the need to build on the existing library of test case models.

It was also acknowledged that while professional networking software such as LinkedIn was an excellent way of exchanging information, SIG workshop meetings would be required for real progress to emerge. An initial meeting for 2011/12 was agreed upon (possible location Delft). Such a meeting would provide a forum to explore in depth the spectrum of research in the Model Analysis area, and would also allow the development of an analytic, algorithm and toolset architecture where we could define collaborative projects to further the objectives of the group (with the key goal being to develop methods/tools that can impact on system dynamics Modeling Practice).

Submitted by: Jim Duggan


Russian Chapter

The Russian Chapter of the System Dynamics Society was created five years ago. The main objectives of the Chapter are the propagation of system dynamics in Russian-speaking educational and expert communities, providing information in Russian and English, sharing experience between members of the Chapter, making contacts with business and research institutions, and the support of System Dynamics Society activity in Russia.

In 2010, members of the Chapter created a Chapter website.

Recent System Dynamics Related Conferences in Russia:

  • IMMOD- Theoretical and practical conference in St. Petersburg, Russia“Simulation Modeling: Theory and Practice.” This conference provided a comprehensive analysis of the current state and development prospects of the simulation modeling theory and simulation tools in business, industry and administrative governance.
  • For the sixth time we will organize the All-Russia theoretical and practical conference (with international participation) titled “Theory and Practice of System Dynamics” in the city of Apatitys in Spring 2012, under the aegis of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
  • Every May there is an annual international conference at the School of Public Administration of the Lomonosov Moscow State University called, “Government in the XXI Century: Traditions and Innovations.” This conference includes a separate section on simulation modeling and simulation games.
  • At the State University of Management, during its international conference, a roundtable was headed by Prof. Natalya Lychkina titled “The Vertical of Strategic Planning: The Advanced Methods and Tools of Decision-Making” which has caused a good response and interest of experts in the field of system dynamics.

During the last few years, the Russian Chapter of the Society presented posters at the International Conference of System Dynamics Society (Athens, Albuquerque, and Seoul).

Participation in the 29th International System Dynamics Conference

The 29th International System Dynamics Conference took place on July 24-26, 2011 in Washington, DC. There was participation and sponsorship by Russian companies XJ Technologies and PROGNOZ.

PROGNOZ develops Business Intelligence and Business Performance Management solutions that help corporations and government agencies harness the power of data to make informed decisions. The flagship application is the PROGNOZ 5 Platform, a modular software package with data storage, reporting, analytical, modeling and forecasting capabilities.

XJ Technologies is a leading provider of dynamic simulation tools, technologies and consulting services for business applications. The company designs, develops and markets AnyLogic—the first and only tool that brings together system dynamics, process-centric (discrete event), and agent based methods within one modeling language and one model development environment.

A report entitled Modeling of Social Sphere Based on Methods of System Dynamics was delivered by Dmitriy Andrianov, CEO of PROGNOZ, and Prof. Lychkina, President of the Russian Chapter. A workshop on simulation modeling led by Prof. Lychkina gathered many experts who discussed solutions for federal, regional, and municipal authorities.

Topic-oriented books published in Russia were presented at the conference in Washington. One was a monograph on system dynamics, Simulation Modeling of Economic Processes by Prof. Lychkina. The paper is based on fundamental works of J. Forrester, simulation of enterprises, and social and economic systems operation. It was published by INFRA-M publishing house and recommended by the Ministry of Education of Russia. The other was Katalevsky`s book Fundamentals of Management Simulation Modeling and System Analysis (published in Moscow by University Press).

Educational programs

Several universities introduced educational programs, among them are:

  • Lomonosov Moscow State University, School of Public Administration: A laboratory of simulation under the direction of D. Kavtaradze is engaged in the development of educational games on the basis of system dynamic models.
  • State University of Management: Under the Faculty of Economic Cybernetics and Faculty of Information Systems, two classes, “Simulation Modeling of Economic Processes,” and “Decision Support Systems,” are offered by Prof. Lychkina, Deputy Head of Information Systems for Science.
  • National Research University, Higher School of Economics: Educational programs at the Faculty of Business and Computer Science are offered by Prof. A. Andranik and Prof. N. Lychkina.
  • Perm National Research University (former Perm State University): The Information Systems and Mathematical Methods in Economics Department launched a Master’s degree program “Business Intelligence Systems in Forecasting and Management of Socio-Economic Development Processes in Countries and Territories,” where students study a course of system dynamics.

Further development and International cooperation

The chapter plans to carry out co-programs on simulation modeling and system dynamics, seminars and workshops, master degree programs, write monographs, organize a roundtable discussion on “Strategies of Socio-Economic Development of Russia up to 2020 (Strategy-2020)” and IMMOD 2011 Conference in St. Petersburg, and participate in some activities within the recently established National Simulation Modeling Society. Joint educational projects at the leading Russian universities, as well as international projects, are also planned.

We welcome the members of System Dynamics Society to strengthen cooperation with the Russian Chapter and are ready to provide support from the State University of Management, the Moscow State University and others. XJ Technologies and PROGNOZ are ready to provide organizational support as well.

Today there is a certain interest in system dynamics and simulation modeling from both business and government organizations. We are ready to respond to these challenges in cooperation with our international colleagues.

Submitted by: N. Lychkina


Student Chapter

Onur Özgün and David Keith from the Student Chapter of the System Dynamics Society organized the 12th PhD Colloquium at the International Conference of the System Dynamics Society in Washington, DC. This year, 24 students from 15 countries presented their work. With the contributions of a keynote speaker, expert discussants, and more than 100 attendees, the colloquium was a great success. More information is available on the Chapter website. Next year’s colloquium at the ICSD 2012 in St. Gallen, Switzerland will be organized by Chris Browne and Nicolas Escalante.

We are constantly striving to find better ways of interaction within the student community. In addition to the existing email list, we are opening new channels for communication in social media. We are also in the process of improving our collaborative space on the Chapter website.

We have an online store that has system dynamics related items on sale.All proceeds from store sales will benefit the Student Chapter colloquium and other large scale events. We especially encourage you to take note of the items in our inventory that are limited in number that can be viewed here.

This year’s leadership team for the chapter:

Onur Özgün: Bogazici University, Turkey (President/Chapter Representative)
Chris Browne: Australian National University, Australia (VP Colloquium)
Nicolas Escalante: University of Stuttgart, Germany (VP Colloquium)
Lana Sukhodolska: Dong Energy, Denmark (VP Web & Communications)
Jerome Hughes: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA (VP Web & Communications-Webinars)
Mauricio Uriona Maldonado: University of Santa Catarina, Brazil (VP Membership & Outreach)
Patrick Cantwell: George Washington University, USA (VP Finance)

To get more information, please visit the Chapter website.

Submitted by: Onur Özgün


Swiss Chapter

The activities of the Swiss Chapter of the System Dynamics Society are currently focused on regular Chapter meetings, a PhD colloquium, and an exchange on teaching system dynamics. For this reason, our website has been re-launched to provide more tools for collaboration and exchange (www.systemdynamics-swisschapter.ch). The PhD colloquium is the sole opportunity in Switzerland for many PhD students who use system dynamics in their research to share their work with other students and with peers. The colloquium thus contributes to creating a network between students and universities in Switzerland. Currently the colloquium is organized by Cécile Emery from the University of Lugano.

As previously mentioned, teaching system dynamics has become a focal point of our activities. It has unfolded that system dynamics and systems thinking are being taught increasingly at various universities in Switzerland. Moreover, a Swiss association called sysdyn is promoting system dynamics as a method for teaching and problem solving in high schools and universities.

In general, we are also considering including other modelling approaches such as agent-based modelling, discrete event simulation, etc. in our programme and activities, which we hope will broaden our methodological scope and increase the number of potentially interested members.

Lastly, in 2012 we look forward to hosting the International System Dynamics Conference in Switzerland. There will be many fruitful opportunities for exchange and mutual learning.

Submitted by: Justus Gallati, Lukas Schmid


United Kingdom Chapter

The UK Chapter has regular meetings in the UK—in particular a two-day gathering each February, and regular networking meetings. In February we held the 2011 Annual Gathering. The theme of “How System Dynamics Can Help Get (Much) More From Less” reflected the challenge facing both corporate and public organisations trying to cope with much reduced resources, following the 2008-9 recession.

  • Lee Jones from Ventana Systems UK talked about modelling cost reduction in Pharmaceuticals.
  • Nick Whitehouse from the UK Inland Revenue described their challenge in managing the ‘bath-tub’ of tax debt owed by UK taxpayers.
  • Sîon Cave of Qinetiq PLC described a project to increase software development productivity at Microsoft.

Over 40 delegates attended and the general opinion was very favourable. Networking and a buffet dinner followed. The second day featured a talk by iconoclastic economist Paul Ormerod on agent-based modelling of economic crises. This was followed by a plenary discussion of how system dynamics might address the same issue.

We also held our 4th PhD Colloquium. Congratulations to Rhys Lewis, of Caerphilly County Council, who won the UK Chapter Student Prize for outstanding system dynamics work to improve the management of social housing—a costly challenge for many local authorities. Screen-cast videos of all the sessions at the gathering can be viewed at our website.

Through 2011-12, the Chapter aims to widen its visibility. Plans being investigated include sector-focused workshops, and awareness raising seminars and speaker events.

If you are based in the UK and not already on our membership list (membership is free) then please do join us and see what we have to offer by visiting our website. There are between 80 and 100 members active in system dynamics in the UK.

Submitted by: Kim Warren


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