Abstract for: Shed light on dark feedback loops! - The consequences of not recognizing feedback loops for the dominant management logic

This paper deals with feedback loops in mental models of dynamic systems (MMDS). However, untrained individuals fail to recognize most of the loops inherent in by the causal structure they articulate: many loops remain invisible like dark matter. This paper takes the example of recent research concerning the strategic reasoning of vineyard executives. Out of nine participants, only three recognized any loops, but 90% of the inherent loops – identified following the logic of the shortest independent loop set (SILS) - remained ‘dark’ to them. By identifying the connections between the inherent loops, it is shown that the impact of the dark loops on the majority of variables in their mental models was not recognized. Based on these results, it is argued that decision makers ought to be given qualitative modeling tools for articulation of mental models which automatically detect and visually feed back the SILS loops. Also, the enhanced ‘distance ratio’ method ought to become able to process ‘dark’ loops. Eventually, the debate concerning loops in mental models ought to be taken to the larger community of mental model research in management.