Minutes of the General Business Meeting of the System Dynamics Society

23 July 1998

Québec, City, Canada

In Attendance.

David Andersen (Vice President - Finance), Yaman Barlas (President), Michael J. Radzicki (Secretary), George P. Richardson (Past President), Roberta L. Spencer (Executive Director)

1. Call to Order.

The meeting was called to order at 10:35 AM by President Barlas.

2. Approval of the Minutes

Mike Radzicki moved and Jack Pugh seconded a motion that the minutes of the 22 August 1997 general meeting of the System Dynamics Society be approved. The motion passed.

3. Announcements

President Barlas made the following announcements to the membership:


The Policy Council voted against raising Society dues.


The Policy Council has established a new, two-stage, process for applying to host the annual conference. In the first stage, written "pre-proposals" are to be submitted to the Policy Council up to four years in advance of the year in which when a particular conference will be held. A subset of the pre-proposals will be chosen by the Council as finalists and the submitters of these pre-proposals will be asked to submit full-blown, written, proposals to host the conference. The Council will then select the conference host from this set of proposals.

4. Report of the Vice President - Finance

Vice President - Finance David Andersen reported that, once again, the financial position of the Society is strong. He then emphasized three main points for the membership:


Three years ago, the Society began a process of transforming its principal office from one that is staffed by volunteers to one that is staffed by a professional administrator. This process is nearly complete and the Society has not. drawn down its financial resources as much as it had anticipated during the transition.


The Society's books are being maintained around three cost centers: core operations, conferences, and sales.


The Society's financial statements are posted on the web for all members to see.

5. Report of the Executive Director

Executive Director Roberta Spencer presented a summary of her 1998 Summer Report. In brief, all is well at the Society office. The office is now using Quick Books for its accounting and is now accepting credit cards and maintaining a web site. There has been an increase in beer game sales and Society sponsorship this year, and a 22% increase in membership. As of June 1998, Society membership stands at 605. The Executive Director is still updating the administrative calendar and has hired a part time assistant. The office has answered two inquiries into how a new Society chapter is created. The first was from a group of students in Europe who wish to form a student chapter. The second was from some Society members in Mexico.

6. Chapter Reports.


Japanese Chapter. Saburo Kameyama presented a summary of the 1998 Report of the Japanese Chapter. Among the highlights were that:


the Chapter now has 101 members, 32 of whom are also Society members.


the Chapter now has 12 corporate members.


the Chapter engaged in three types of activities in 1998:


Monthly research meetings


Research projects


Publishing an issue of their journal: System Dynamics (Japanese).


Chinese Chapter. Quifan Wang presented a summary of the 1998 activities of the Chinese Chapter, which has approximately 500 members. The activities included:


the submission of a proposal to the central government to use system dynamics to study economic growth and stagnation in China. The Chinese economy has been growing at approximately a 10% annual rate (20% in some areas of the country), but recently there are signs of an economic slowdown. This slowdown may be due to a Chinese economic long wave. System dynamics modeling can be used to study this possibility.


the submission of a proposal to the central government to use system dynamics to help reform state-owned enterprises. Given the increased reliance of the Chinese economy on markets, there is a need for Chinese firms to become more efficient and competitive. System dynamics would be used to create three-day training seminars for Chinese managers aimed at helping them understand the dynamics of their emerging competitive environments.


the submission of a proposal to the Mayor of Shanghai to use system dynamics to help determine Shanghai's economic goals for the next century.


the establishment of a program for educating young academics in system dynamics at the University of Bergen in Norway. It is hoped that this program will eventually yield a return of 20-30 system dynamicists to China.


the publication of system dynamics articles in Chinese journals.


the creation of an agreement with the government that an academic team of 30 Ph.D.s in system dynamics will play an important role in Chinese policy making during the next century.

Quifan went on to note that many of the Chinese Chapter's proposals had been given coverage by the electronic and print media.


Italian Chapter. Habib Sedhi reported on the activities of the Italian Chapter. Among the highlights were that the Chapter:


was founded in February of 1996 with about 20 members, 12 of whom were Society members.


has, as of the end of 1997, approximately 50 members, 23 of whom are Society members.


has begun to participate in the ESPREE Project, a US$4 million European project.


has helped to create a new, active, system dynamics group in a very large international firm (ENI), within it's division of strategic planning.


has, through the work of individual members, participated in an international conference and put on an international workshop. The former was the annual Italian Operations Research Conference, held in September of 1997, in St. Vincent, Italy. Two system dynamics sessions were held. The latter was a European workshop on small business growth, held in June of 1998 in Palermo. The workshop drew 100 attendees from academia and business.

Sedhi also noted that there are now system dynamics theses being directed at three Italian universities.

7. Future Conference Sites.

President Barlas announced the current schedule of locations for future conferences. The schedule includes:


1999 - Wellington, New Zealand


2000 - Bergen, Norway


2001 - Somewhere in North America

President Barlas then asked Bob Cavana to give a brief report on the 1999 conference in New Zealand. Cavana reported that the theme of the conference will be: "Systems Thinking for the Next Millenium" and that, at the time of the conference, it will be winter in New Zealand. Cavana noted that New Zealand winters are quite mild (the average temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit/10 degrees centigrade), so that no one needs to worry about the weather.

President Barlas then asked Paal Davidsen to report on the 2000 conference in Bergen, Norway. Davidson reported that the theme of the conference will be "Sustainability in the Third Millenium" (broadly defined), that the tentative dates are August 6th and 7th, and that the area is great for outdoor recreation.

8. Status of the System Dynamics Review

Mike Radzicki read Graham Winch's 1998 Report of the Executive Editor of the System Dynamics Review. Yaman Barlas opined that the flow of articles to the Review is still low and that this is not due to the journal's editorship, but rather to the falling number of submissions by Society members. Barlas urged all Society members to submit more of their work to the Review.

9. Nominating Committee.

Past President George Richardson announced that the Nominating Committee, consisting of himself, Khalid Saeed, Showing Young, and John D. W. Morecroft, had arrived at a slate of candidates for Society officers and Policy Council positions, and that the Policy Council had approved the slate. The candidates, who in the absence of challengers and the subsequent need for an election will take office in 2000, are:


President Elect: Ali Mashayekhi (Iran)


Vice President - Publications: Eric Wolstenholme (UK)


Policy Council: John Barton (Australia), John Heinbokel (USA), Celine Bak (A. T. Kearney, Spain), and Jonathon Coyle (UK)

Richardson noted that the slate was selected as much for its geographic and system dynamics (i.e., academia, K-12 education, consulting) diversity, as for the projected contributions to the Society from the candidates.

10. New Business.

George Richardson moved and Peter Milling seconded a motion that the Society membership authorize the Policy Council to include the use of e-mail for votes of the Policy Council and amend the Society's Policies as necessary.

A discussion then ensued. During the discussion, Peter Milling suggested that the motion explicitly not mention the word "e-mail," but rather say that the Policy Council could vote "via any appropriate means." At 11:33 AM, Dave Ford moved the question and Khalid Saeed seconded the motion. The motion to end debate passed. The subsequent vote on the motion itself passed.

11. Adjournment.

Jack Pugh moved and Khalid Saeed seconded a motion that: "the meeting be adjourned." The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael J. Radzicki