Abstract for: Meaning-making in the process of participatory system dynamics research

Similar to validation techniques, participatory methods try to alleviate bounded rationality in the process of modelling in order to build better models. In addition, they aim to change par-ticipants understanding, decision making and actions. While good examples of best practice exist in participatory system dynamics, a unified underlying social theory of collaboration or learning, or even competing theories are missing. To support the development of a theoretical-ly grounded participatory process, we draw on the distinction of bounded rationality repre-sented in model content as well as in the modelling process itself and specifically draw on theories of meaning construction by George Herbert Mead and relate them to a case example in the area of housing. We argue that participatory methods should include four elements of meaning-making (i.e. gesturing, naming, acting, and iterating) in order to change participantís mental models. This will also change the contents represented in the generated system dynam-ics models, e.g. from a fragmented to a more holistic view.