Systems thinking: learning or driving?

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Systems thinking: learning or driving?

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Title: Systems thinking: learning or driving?
Author: Capelo, Carlos; Dias, João Ferreira
Abstract: The ability to foresee how behaviour of a system arises from the interaction of its components over time - i.e. its dynamic complexity – is seen an important ability to take effective decisions in our turbulent world. Dynamic complexity emerges frequently from interrelated simple structures, such as stocks and flows, feedbacks and delays (Forrester, 1961). Common sense assumes an intuitive understanding of their dynamic behaviour. However, recent researches have pointed to a persistent and systematic error in people understanding of those building blocks of complex systems. This paper describes an empirical study concerning the native ability to understand systems thinking concepts. Two different groups - one, academic, the other, professional – submitted to four tasks, proposed by Sweeney and Sterman (2000) and Sterman (2002). The results confirm a poor intuitive understanding of the basic systems concepts, even when subjects have background in mathematics and sciences.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10437/1349
Date: 2007-04


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