Abstract for: What Systems Thinking Means to Different Networks of Researchers

There is a growing body of literature on the applications of Systems Thinking (ST); yet, a consensus on what constitutes ST remains elusive. Various studies have demonstrated the necessity to revise the definition of ST, especially for the purpose of ST assessment. Classification of the available definitions in the literature is an essential step to reach a common language among the scholars in the field. By using Social Network Analysis (SNA), this paper identifies the main authorship networks around ST. The analysis of 1462 papers with ST in their title leads to the emergence of three large components. Looking at the main concepts, definitions and applications in each component reveals systems thinking functions differently for each network of researchers. In the first component, ST is used as the backbone of other frameworks such as Critical Systems Thinking (CST) or Open System Thinking; while, in the second component, the applicability of ST concepts and the gap from knowledge to action are highlighted. Finally, the third component points to the potential application of ST to transform different sectors.