Abstract for: System dynamics and power
System dynamics projects in organizational contexts are impacted by power and politics. Case studies show how decision makers’ interests influence both the modelling process as well as the implementation of recommendations. System dynamics literature offers little in terms of conceptual understanding or empirical research focused on the impact of power. This paper defines power and discusses its interaction with rationality and consensus. This is contrasted with system dynamics based organisational interventions. System dynamicists are encouraged to speak truth to power. They place themselves in the role of scientists, building decision makers’ conceptual understanding and helping to identify policies that improve overall system functioning. An alternative theoretical perspective emphasizes the wide availability and accessibility of model-based decision support. The motivated information processing approach adds that information gathering and processing can be driven by a prosocial or proself aim. System dynamics lacks an understanding of the competent proself motivated decision maker. The focus on overall system functioning places individual interests and stakeholder relations in the background. To more directly capture these elements of power, a range of intervention methods complementary to system dynamics is described. This paper may help to ground system dynamics interventions in relevant literature and rethink practice.