Minutes of the Meeting of the Policy Council of the System Dynamics Society

11 March 1997

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In Attendance.


James Hines (Vice President - Meetings), Alexander L. Pugh (Vice President - Finance), Michael J. Radzicki (Secretary), George P. Richardson (President),

Policy Council:

David Andersen, Robert Eberlein, Jay W. Forrester (Founding President)


Bradd Libby, James Lyneis, Nan Lux, Roberta Spencer (Executive Director)

1. Call to Order.

The meeting was called to order at 11:15 AM by President Richardson.

2. Informational Items.


  1. 1997 Conference Report. Jim Hines reported that Yaman Barlas has submitted a report on the status of the 1997 conference. A copy of Yaman's report is available for viewing on this web site.


  2. 1998 and 1999 Conferences. Jim Hines reported that Joel Rahn has submitted a formal proposal to host the 1998 conference. A copy of Joel's proposal is available for viewing on this web site.


  3. Status of the Model Interchange Format. Bob Eberlein reported that the MIF is currently in alpha format and will be available soon.


  4. Report of the Vice President - Finance. Jack Pugh summarized the Society's 1996 balance sheet and income statement for the Council and reported that the Society's finances are in good shape. Copies of the Society's 1996 balance sheet and income statement are available for viewing on this web site.


  5. Report of the Executive Director. Roberta Spencer summarized her report on the status of the Society. A copy of Roberta's report is available for viewing on this web site.


  6. Report of the Editor of the System Dynamics Review. Mike Radzicki reported that Graham Winch has prepared a report on the status of the System Dynamics Review. A copy of Graham's report is available for viewing on this web site.


3. Action Items.


  1. Approval of the Minutes. Bob Eberlein moved and Jack Pugh seconded a motion "To approve the minutes of the 21 July 1996, 22 July 1996, and 23 July 1996, meetings of the Policy Council." The motion passed.


  2. Signature Authority for the Executive Director. Jack Pugh moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion that "the Executive Director be given signature authority, in addition to that of the Vice President - Finance, over the three bank accounts in the Society's name and that the Society Secretary and the Vice President - Finance be authorized to sign the forms necessary to implement this." The motion passed.


  3. Transfer of the Gordon Brown Fund to the Creative Learning Exchange. Jack Pugh moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion that "the Gordon Brown Fund be transferred to the Creative Learning Exchange."

    Jack Pugh noted that the Gordon Brown Fund (GBF) was established to support and encourage the writing-up of existing K-12 system dynamics materials so that they can distributed through the Creative Learning Exchange (CLE). The three persons who originally donated the funds did so with the understanding that they would be used, rather than become part of an endowment. Yet, the fund has never spent more than it has earned in interest, and this could jeopardize the Society's status as a nonprofit organization. By moving the Fund to the Creative Learning Exchange, the Society could avoid any potential problems vis--vis its nonprofit status and the CLE could, perhaps, do a better job disbursing the funds.

    Jay Forrester noted that the CLE is already doing everything it can to disburse the funds and hence that moving the GBF would result in a loss to the Society and no gain to the GBF. He also pointed out that there is some interest in K-12 system dynamics education within the Society and that moving the GBF might send the wrong message vis--vis the importance the Society attaches to K-12 education.

    George Richardson argued that, in his experience, K-12 teachers are "teachers," not "writers." Thus, what the GBF should do is hire someone to identify the good K-12 system dynamics materials that exist around the world and write them up for the CLE.

    Bob Eberlein moved and Jim Hines seconded a motion to: "Table the motion to move the Gordon Brown Fund to the Creative Learning Exchange."

    Eberlein argued that, since only a small fraction of the Society's members were in the room but that Pugh's motion involved a large fraction of the Society's funds, the motion be tabled until the next Policy Council meeting. The motion passed 4 to 2.

    President Richardson appointed a committee consisting of Jay Forrester, Jim Hines, Nan Lux, Mike Radzicki, Lees Stunts, and himself, to rethink the administration of the GBF and report back to the Council at its next meeting.


  4. Selling the Beer Game Through Pegasus. David Andersen moved and Jack Pugh seconded a motion to: "Authorize the Executive Director to negotiate an agreement with Pegasus Communications, Inc., subject to the approval of the Executive Committee, for selling the beer game for the Society."

    David Andersen noted that Kellie Wardman O'Reilly of Pegasus Communications had contacted the Society with an offer to include the beer game in Pegasus' catalogs, as a service to the Society.

    Roberta Spencer suggested that Pegasus simply put an ad in their catalogs indicating the game can be purchased from the Society office.

    Jay Forrester suggested selling the game to Pegasus at the Society's normal price and letting them mark it up to whatever price they wish.

    Jim Hines reminded everyone that the Society originally got into the "business" of selling the beer game as a service to its members. Thus, it's not in the Society's interest to enter into an agreement with Pegasus.

    Jay Forrester voiced concern that such an agreement would set a precedent and motivate other firms to seek commercial relationships with the Society.

    Jack Pugh noted that, if the Society turns Pegasus' offer down, Pegasus can simply sell the beer game on its own. This may very well hurt Society beer game sales.

    Bob Eberlein pointed out that there are two conflicting issues at hand. The first is that the Society is a nonprofit organization and thus should not be "in the business" of selling beer games. The second is that the field of system dynamics benefits if more beer games are sold, and the Society is "in business" to do things that benefit the field.

    Bob Eberlein offered this friendly amendment: "The agreement must not set a precedent for commercial relationships with the Society and it must adhere to one of the following formats: (a) the Society simply sells the game to Pegasus; (b) Pegasus advertises the game and the Society handles all aspects of the transactions; or (c) Pegasus makes its own version of the game and sells it." The motion passed 4 to 1.


  5. Thanking Pegasus Communications, Inc. Bob Eberlein moved and Jack Pugh seconded a motion to: "Thank the people at Pegasus Communications, Inc. for their offer to sell the beer game for the Society." The motion passed.


  6. Paying for Julie Pugh's Trip to Instanbul. David Andersen moved and Jim Hines seconded a motion that: "The Society pay for Julie Pugh's trip to the 1997 conference in Instanbul."

    David Andersen argued that the Society should pay for Julie Pugh's trip to the 1997 conference to thank her for her service as Executive Director through 15 January 1997. The motion passed.


  7. Interim Vice President - Finance. Jack Pugh moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion that: "Effective upon Jack Pugh's resignation, David Andersen become Interim Vice President - Finance, serving until the next Policy Council meeting."

    Jack Pugh noted that, since the Society's principal office has moved to Albany, it made sense that the Interim Vice President - Finance live near Albany. The motion passed.


  8. Accepting Rahn's Proposal to Host the 1998 Conference. Jim Hines moved and Jack Pugh seconded a motion to "accept Joel Rahn's proposal to host the 1998 system dynamics conference in Quebec City, Canada." The motion passed.


3. Discussion Items.


  1. Having the Conference Planning Committee Solicit Papers for the Review. Prompted by Graham Winch's reminder that conference program committees are supposed to identify potential papers for publication in the Review, a discussion on the roles of associate editors and on ways of ensuring that quality papers presented at system dynamics conferences get submitted to the Review was conducted.

    George Richardson felt that the problem is with the Review's Editorial Board and not the conference program committees.

    Jay Forrester pointed out that the Review should consider adding more junior people (e.g., new Ph.D.s) to the Editorial Board. Junior people have more motivation to participate actively and enthusiastically on the Editorial Board.

    Jim Hines suggested that the Review establish criteria for participation on the Editorial Board. He also wondered if there was still time for Yaman and his colleagues to act on this matter prior to the 1997 conference. Yaman could send the quality abstracts the program committee identified to Graham, and Graham could send them to the Associate Editors for solicitation.

    David Andersen suggested making the Associate Editors judges and awarding "best paper" awards in five categories.


  2. Current Format of the Virtual Proceedings. Jay Forrester noted that he recently tried ten randomly chosen links listed on the "virtual proceedings web site" from the 1996 conference and they were all inactive. He found this unacceptable and feels that the system doesn't work and never will. He argued that the Society needs a web site dedicated to the conference proceedings. Links could be established from the Society site to individual papers on personal sites.

    Forrester also felt that submitting four page abstracts as "papers" was insufficient and probably the cause of the poor quality of conference papers. Full papers should be submitted to the conference, reviewed, and placed on a Society web site.

    Mike Radzicki noted that this issue was extensively discussed during the summer Policy Council meetings and the general principle of virtual proceedings was adopted by the Council.

    Bob Eberlein reminded everyone that assembling the proceedings requires significant amounts of time by those who are the best in the field.

    Jim Hines argued that there are three issues associated with the virtual proceedings:

    Abstracts versus full papers for acceptance.


    Paper quality.


    Paper versus virtual papers.

    George Richardson suggested there were seven issues associated with the virtual proceedings debate:



    Where will the virtual papers be stored?


    How long should the paper abstracts that are required for acceptance be?


    How selective should the program committees be?


    Should the proceedings be available on CD?


    Should the Society only publish the best 1/3 of the presented papers?


    Many conference participants will not be able to get funding from their schools to attend the conference without a "publication."


    Proceedings are generally understood to consist of working papers and "first tries," and not to consist of a field's best work.

    Richardson then suggested that an experiment is needed for the 1998 conference. He appointed a committee consisting of Jim Hines, John Morecroft, Jack Pugh, and Mike Radzicki to look further into the virtual proceedings issue and prepare a proposal for the Policy Council meetings in Istanbul. The committee should focus in particular on paper quality and selectivity issues.


  3. Profit and Loss at the 1998 Conference. David Andersen volunteered to ask the Rockefeller College at SUNY Albany about co-sponsoring the 1998 conference with Laval University. This would spread the financial risk and, since Roberta Spencer is at SUNY, serve as a first step toward determining the appropriate role the Society and its Executive Director should play each year in putting on the annual conference.

    Jay Forrester cautioned that this sort of financial guarantee could give the conference organizer a "blank check." As a consequence, the Society and SUNY must have control over the conference budget. The Society and SUNY should be willing to share the income risk but not the expenditures risk.

    Jack Pugh pointed out that for the 1996 conference, corporate sponsors loaned the conference organizers money, which they got back when the conference ran a surplus. In return for their loans, the corporations received free advertising at the conference.

    George Richardson appointed a committee consisting of David Andersen, Bob Eberlein, Peter Milling, and Roberta Spencer to look into the issue further and report to the Council at the Istanbul meetings.


  4. Location of the 1999 Conference. Jim Hines noted that the Society needs a location for the 1999 conference and that, currently, the Powersim people in the Washington, DC area have expressed an interest in hosting the conference.

    Mike Radzicki reminded the Council that it had addressed the issue of the general location of the 1999 conference during the 1996 summer meetings. More specifically, if Bergen is to host the 2000 conference in Europe, and if the principle of holding the conference, on average, every other year in North America is upheld, the 1999 conference must be held in North America.

    George Richardson reminded Jim Hines that the Society needs a proposal for the 1999 conference presented in Istanbul.


  5. New Initiatives. George Richardson listed nine areas where he felt new Society initiatives should be developed. These include:


    Consolidation of Society Policies and Procedures.


    Relationship of the Society Office to Conferences and the Policy Council.


    Society Electronic Presence.


    Interest Groups and Constituencies.










    Public Policy/Government


    Ph.D. and Other Annual Awards.


    Best Conference Paper in the Area of K-12 Education


    Best Nonconference Paper in the Area of K-12 Education


    Best Conference Paper in the Area of System Dynamics Consulting


    Best Nonconference Paper in the Area of System Dynamics Consulting


    Two Undesignated Awards


    Linkages to Larger Societies.


    The "Image" of the Society.


    Stronger Links to Chapters.


    The System Dynamics Bibliography.

    A general discussion pertaining to these initiatives ensued. Nan Lux volunteered to work on the establishment of K-12 best paper awards.

4. Adjournment.

Jim Hines moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion "to adjourn." The motion passed and the meeting was adjourned at 2:39 PM.

Respectfully submitted.

Michael J. Radzicki