The Dynamics of Participation

System Dynamics and Participation: an Emprical Review

The practice of participation, the involvement of stakeholders in decision-making processes has gained prominence in the social sciences and other disciplines recently. The present study discusses how participation meets system dynamics, a particular modeling method which looks at complex systems from an endogenous viewpoint. System dynamics has always oriented itself towards practical problems and engaged with clients actively. This tradition is represented in contemporary participatory methods. We can underpin the involvement of stakeholders in a number of ways: with normative arguments (participation is a democratic right), substantive ones (involvement produces better knowledge), instrumental ones (participation improves the chance of success), or by emphasizing the transformative power of participation (through which both communities and researchers go through a learning process, and social capital is improved). We discuss three schools of participatory system dynamics at length. First, group model building, which we can describe as a professional, practical method. Next, participatory system dynamics modeling, which is rooted in public policy decisions and aims to involve stakeholders actively. Finally, community-based system dynamics sees the empowerment of communities as its main goal, with long-term, deep commitment on the part of the researcher.

Released: Replika 100, 103–129.