Abstract for:What is the status of a boundary object when filtered through multiple layers of translation?

Group model building using system dynamics provides a set of tools to represented and improve mental models.  In order for this approach to function, modelers must be able to build and manage models as boundary objects that have reasonable correspondence to mental models of participants embedded in complex systems. Recent years have seen an increase of applications of group model building to diverse contexts, including engagement with village communities, front line healthcare workers, and primary school students with widely varying system dynamics and systems thinking capabilities. With increase in practice of GMB in diverse contexts, new methodological challenges have emerged around the role of translation in understanding the functioning of a boundary object.

This paper identifies a gap in the literature around the challenge of linguistic translation in group model building practice, and examines examples from an emerging body of international practice to delineate a set of theoretical configurations of engagement with boundary objects through translation.  Based on these configurations, the authors present an alternative approach to managing translation using an example from rural India and discuss the implications for new avenues of group model building practice.