Abstract for:Moving from Mental Models to Technological Rules for Evaluating Impact

This paper takes up the question of we might position the utility of system dynamics scientifically rigorous by re-examining some of the core tenants of the field. The paper reviews the history of this dilemma between utility and scientific rigor, and situations the issue within a larger scientific and philosophical discourse in applied and design science about how to develop and use results to make a difference in the real world using mathematical models. The paper builds on prior work and argues that we need to shift from a focus on mental models to a more clearly defined set of technological rules developed with a progressive program of research that provide a clear set of pre/post intervention comparison. Implications are discussed for system dynamics practice, research, and more broadly, implementation and translational sciences.