Abstract for: Supporting interdisciplinary research projects via system dynamics boundary objects: An application to urban water management

To address complex or wicked problems, we need researchers from multiple disciplines with specialised knowledge to work together in large research projects. However, while there is much interest in such interdisciplinary collaboration at the rhetoric level, its manifestations in practice are less frequent. While the system dynamics literature helps understand project collaboration and the use of boundary objects to appreciate dependencies between external stakeholder concerns, we lack understanding how system dynamics boundary objects can support interdisciplinary collaboration among a research team itself. Using an application from the area of Integrated Urban Water Management, this paper demonstrates how participatory system dynamics can be used to create boundary objects for better managing interdisciplinarity in large research projects. It shows that such activities can help facilitate the communication and transfer of meaning and learning amongst diverse sub-teams and contribute to the better management of research projects. More broadly, this paper also discusses the application of system dynamics in a less problem-focused context and provides a dynamic interpretation of a theory of change.