Abstract for: What Can Formal Modeling Add to Qualitative Systems Thinking? A Simulation Model of the Shift the Burden System Archetype
While qualitative-based system archetypes have helped popularize the application of systems thinking since the publication of "The Fifth Discipline", some argue using the archetype alone, without the knowledge derived from working directly with formal models, can be dangerous. This paper presents a formal simulation model of Shift the Burden, one of the most popular system archetypes. I seek to create a model as parsimonious and generic as possible while grounding the formulations based on behavioral decision processes. A set of leverage points are identified that prevents the system from tipping into a vicious circle where more symptomatic solution leads to erosion of fundamental solution that augments problem symptom. Counter to the common advice of eliminating symptomatic solution whenever possible, I demonstrate when and why symptomatic solution could be useful or even necessary under certain conditions. The appropriate use of symptomatic solution along with fundamental solution can help dampen oscillation in fundamental solution, prevent vicious tipping dynamics and sustain high fundamental solution in face of volatile exogenous shocks. I hope to contribute to the systems thinking literature by demonstrating how formal modeling can deepen the insights of qualitative system archetypes and call for similar efforts towards other archetypes.