President's Newsletter 
Volume 13 - Number 2 - November 2000

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2000 System Dynamics Conference -- Bergen, Norway


Registration in entrance hall

The Bergen Conference had the highest participation to date with a total of 359 registrants! Of that, an enthusiastic 22% were students. Participants traveled from 36 different countries to converge in Bergen, with Western Europeans from 14 countries comprising one-half of the conference population. People from academia, practitioners in private industry, consultants, software firms, government officials (including military, environmental, health care, etc.), schoolteachers and non-profit organizations were in attendance. City of Bergen officials Anne-Grete Strøm Erichsen and Ingmar Ljones, as well as Sigmund Grønmo, the Vice Rector of the University, wholeheartedly welcomed our group. Addressing the conference in the first plenary session (without a seat to spare), Drs. Jørgen Randers, Peter Senge and Magdy Hefny set the stimulating tone of the conference.

"I certainly enjoyed the conference. It had all the right ingredients - stimulating papers, an opportunity to see what the "gurus" are currently thinking about, the opportunity to have a chat with old friends and colleagues and to make new friends, a great location, and excellent organization." Participant John Barton

In addition to inspiring plenary sessions, parallel and poster sessions covered topics such as, validation, teaching K-12, knowledge management, social and political issues, group model building, simulation games, methodology, health, economy, agriculture, energy, organizational change, and many more! A variety of workshops were also offered during and after the conference and were very well attended. The Consultants' Roundtable was filled to capacity this year and will be expanded in 2001.

The informal gathering after registration was a huge hit!

The social programs included an Informal Gathering prepared by the University of Bergen students (who were the organizational backbone throughout the conference), a wonderful Welcome Reception at the historic Bergen Castle, guided walks through the city of Bergen, a tour and concert at the home of Edvard Grieg, and a beautiful panoramic view, followed by a great dinner at the Flöyen Restaurant. Our day atop the fjord, arriving by cable car, was the only day without any rain! Policy council meetings and other special interest meetings rounded out the conference. The complete version of the minutes from the summer Policy Council Meetings held at the Bergen Conference will be posted on the Society website. Please see the following photo essay of the conference.




The Policy Council hard at work. Welcome Reception at the Bergen Castle - Pål Davidsen, Conference Chair and Local Host; Roberta Spencer, Executive Director; Mayor Ljones and Jac Vennix, President

Jay W. Forrester Award Winner


Erling Moxnes accepting the Jay W. Forrester Award, presented by John Sterman.

At the Bergen conference, the Jay W. Forrester Award for 2000 was presented to Erling Moxnes for his paper, "Not Only the Tragedy of the Commons: Misperceptions of Bioeconomics," published in Management Science in 1998 (44(9), 1234-1248). In this paper, Erling, a faculty member at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, presents an experimental study in which he uses a management flight simulator to examine how people manage a fishery. By giving participants property rights, Erling eliminated the commons problem, which frequently leads to the destruction of a common renewable resource. Yet even without the commons problem, the majority of subjects still overfished and overbuilt their fleets. Erling shows how this unexpected behavior results from systematic misperceptions of feedback. The full award citation and a paper by Erling describing his recent work in this area will be published in the System Dynamics Review.

Photo Essay of Bergen Conference

Photographs courtesy of Jack Pugh, Dean Christensen, James Melhuish and the student photographers from the University of Bergen.

Jack Pugh at work! Jack was one of the conference photographers. General Session Auditorium

Networking at the Conference


The tour of Edvard Grieg's home and concert before the banquet.

The "FUNicular" ride (cable car) to the top of the fjord where the banquet restaurant was located. In front of the Flöyen Restaurant, particpants enjoyed the beautiful sunny day and view of the City of Bergen from atop the fjord

Traditional Norwegian Hardinger fiddle entertainment during the banquet dinner. Pål Davidsen thanking Julie Pugh and Marg Rahn for staffing the Registration Desk. Thanks also to Nan Lux, Cate Hatlebrekke and the students from the University of Bergen.


A delicious dinner and enjoyable company Banquet speaker Jim Hines


Cate Hatlebrekke with some of the students from the University of Bergen Bergen Conference Co-Program Chairs

Ali Masheyeki

David Ford

Teaching Strategy Dynamics Workshop at Bergen

This excellent workshop was held following the International System Dynamics Conference in Bergen. It was run by Dr. Kim Warren from the London Business School, with the help of his colleagues Rod Brown and Christina Spencer from Global Strategy Dynamics Ltd. About 45 conference participants from academic and commercial backgrounds stayed for the extra day to participate. A thorough overview of the field of Strategy Dynamics was provided, and the workshop contained a mixture of concepts, caselets, real world experiences and Microworld computer simulation exercises. The emphasis was on group work rather than individual performance. Discussions got a little heated at times, particularly over the comparative merits of causal loop models versus stock flow diagrams for understanding strategy dynamics! Many thanks to Kim, Rod and Christina for generously giving their time to put on such an interesting and thought-provoking workshop. Kim's 'pony-trekking' exercise certainly goes a long way to explain Napoleon's problems after retreating from Moscow in 1812! We all now have a lot more interesting material to incorporate into our systems thinking and system dynamics courses and commercial activities. Further details of the material covered are available at the Strategy Dynamics web site: For more information, contact Michelle Hale (email regarding future Strategy Dynamics workshops at London Business School or Christina Spencer (email Finally, I would also like to add my congratulations and thanks to Pål Davidsen and Roberta Spencer (and their conference team) for making the Bergen conference such a tremendous experience for all concerned. Submitted by Bob Cavana, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

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Roberta L. Spencer, Executive Director
System Dynamics Society
Milne 300 - Rockefeller College
University at Albany – SUNY
Albany, New York 12222 USA
Phone: (518) 442-3865     Fax: (518) 442-3398

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