Abstract for:Modelling as Bricolage

As a field, system dynamics (SD) has developed a strong community of practice that has collectively invested significant resources in making the theory and practice of SD model-building explicit. In this paper, we suggest that in spite of the range of topics covered and explored within the SD community of practice, there is a gap in articulating the principles and practices that support and enable flexible modeling. Flexible modelling has not been articulated as a comprehensive stance, nor has it been postulated in terms of principled propositions that can then be tested and applied in other real world contexts. We propose an organising framework for the usually implicit principles and practices that we call ‘modelling as bricolage’, drawing from a French research term. We discuss an early attempt to operationalise the bricolage concepts and methods by categorising and clarifying the bundles of practices that we argue makes a successful modeler ‘a bricoleur’. By making these principles and practices more explicit, our intention is to clarify the applications of bricolage to SD theory and practice, drawing on two South African case studies for illustrative purposes. We argue that this holds both theoretical implications for the SD community and implications for practice.