Abstract for: Exploratory Policy Design

This paper is the first of two that focus on the policy design phase of system dynamics modeling. The literature contains relatively few examples of efforts to restructure a model in realistic ways to alleviate problematic behavior. Much more common is policy parameter analysis, perhaps because it can provide useful policy insights with only a little time and effort. Building new policy structure can be difficult and time-consuming. One reason may be the lack of a framework to guide the policy design process. Good examples of structural modification rarely reveal the method behind the masterpiece; indeed, the method often appears to be more craft than science. This paper proposes a framework to facilitate model-based policy design and thereby enhance the practice. A public health policy model is used to illustrate the first part of the framework: exploratory policy design. We conclude with a brief preview of the second part—implementation policy design—that is the subject of a companion paper.