Abstract for: Comparing Causal Loop Diagrams: thematic analysis to elicit differences in system boundary perceptions

Participatory modelling has become increasingly popular thanks to its ability to integrate participants’ diverse knowledge for addressing grand challenges. It helps creating an overall understanding of the system, fuelled by diverse participants’ views, and thus generate insights and consensus. This is important because not only stakeholder groups but also modellers, whose work supports decision-makers, or decision-makers themselves are bounded by their view of the system. Differences in system framing may lead to misperceptions, polarisation and poor decisions. Some research exists to compare the mental model of different stakeholders. However, we lack research that compares the system perception of modellers, of decision-makers and other groups of stakeholders. We also lack comparing methods for large Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) providing results that are easily comprehensible by a diverse range of stakeholders. This paper presents a novel method to compare CLDs based on qualitative (thematic analysis) and quantitative analysis (centrality index). The paper describes the methodology applied to an urban sustainability case study in Thamesmead (London, UK). It analyses the differences between the foci of hydrological modellers, stakeholders with decision power and other groups of stakeholders. Conceptually, the paper links the Attention-Based View to mental models and the cognitive maps to CLDs.