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Systems, Volume 6, Issue 3 (September 2018)

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Open AccessArticle Applying Systems Thinking to Engineering and Design
Received: 13 July 2018 / Revised: 12 September 2018 / Accepted: 14 September 2018 / Published: 19 September 2018
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Abstract
The application of Systems Thinking principles to Systems Engineering is synergistic, resulting in superior systems, products, and designs. However, there is little practical information available in the literature that describes how this can be done. In this paper, we analyze 12 major Systems
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The application of Systems Thinking principles to Systems Engineering is synergistic, resulting in superior systems, products, and designs. However, there is little practical information available in the literature that describes how this can be done. In this paper, we analyze 12 major Systems Engineering failures involving bridges, aircraft, submarines, water supplies, automobiles, skyscrapers, and corporations and recommend Systems Thinking principles, tools, and procedures that should be applied during the first few steps of the System Engineering design process to avoid such catastrophic Systems Engineering failures in the future. Full article
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Open AccessArticle An Integrated Participatory Systems Modelling Approach: Application to Construction Innovation
Received: 26 June 2018 / Revised: 19 July 2018 / Accepted: 14 August 2018 / Published: 20 August 2018
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Abstract
This paper presents a novel five-stage integrated participatory systems modelling (IPSM) approach that can be used for a range of systems dynamics (SD) applications. The IPSM approach was formulated considering the advantages and disadvantages of existing SD modelling approaches, as well as balancing
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This paper presents a novel five-stage integrated participatory systems modelling (IPSM) approach that can be used for a range of systems dynamics (SD) applications. The IPSM approach was formulated considering the advantages and disadvantages of existing SD modelling approaches, as well as balancing the competing goals of SD model development efficiency and robustness. A key feature of the IPSM approach is that stakeholders are central to each of the five stages of the modelling process from problem scoping, to scenario analysis and strategy implementation recommendations. Each stage of the IPSM approach was demonstrated through a case study of the innovation diffusion process in the Russian Federation construction industry. This highly complex innovation system could only be sufficiently understood using a SD model that was conceptualised, critiqued, codified, tested and utilised, by the relevant actors within that system (i.e., stakeholders). The IPSM approach facilitated the efficient formulation of the SD model for the case study application. The case study SD model simulation results indicate that sufficient government incentives and the active promotion of strong collaborative linkages between construction companies and universities are two key enablers of innovation development in the Russian Federation construction industry. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Systemic Semantics: A Systems Approach to Building Ontologies and Concept Maps
Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 24 July 2018 / Published: 10 August 2018
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Abstract
The field of systemology does not yet have a standardised terminology; there are multiple glossaries and diverse perspectives even about the meanings of fundamental terms. This situation undermines researchers’ and practitioners’ ability to communicate clearly both within and outside their own specialist communities.
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The field of systemology does not yet have a standardised terminology; there are multiple glossaries and diverse perspectives even about the meanings of fundamental terms. This situation undermines researchers’ and practitioners’ ability to communicate clearly both within and outside their own specialist communities. Our perspective is that different vocabularies can in principle be reconciled by seeking more generalised definitions that reduce, in specialised contexts, to the nuanced meaning intended in those contexts. To this end, this paper lays the groundwork for a community effort to develop an ‘Ontology of Systemology’. In particular we argue that the standard methods for ontology development can be enhanced by drawing on systems thinking principles, and show via four examples how these can be applied for both domain-specific and upper ontologies. We then use this insight to derive a systemic and systematic framework for selecting and organising the terminology of systemology. The outcome of this paper is therefore twofold: We show the value in applying a systems perspective to ontology development in any discipline, and we provide a starting outline for an Ontology of Systemology. We suggest that both outcomes could help to make systems concepts more accessible to other lines of inquiry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Thinking)
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Open AccessArticle A System Dynamics Model of the Adoption of Improved Agricultural Inputs in Uganda, with Insights for Systems Approaches to Development
Received: 9 April 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 8 August 2018
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Abstract
Designing international development projects is challenging because the complexity of the systems on which they act makes it difficult to identify the best leverage points for intervention. This paper seeks to identify the best combinations of interventions to increase the availability of and
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Designing international development projects is challenging because the complexity of the systems on which they act makes it difficult to identify the best leverage points for intervention. This paper seeks to identify the best combinations of interventions to increase the availability of and demand for quality seeds in Uganda and similar markets. A system dynamics model simulates the current dynamics in Ugandan seed markets based on data gathered by ongoing development projects. The findings show that one intervention is critical to enabling growth—investing in a system for verifying the quality of seeds—and that a combination of quality verification with education-oriented interventions is more powerful than quality verification alone. The results have implications for systems approaches to development: they suggest that a combination of interventions in different parts of the value chain enables larger changes than any single intervention alone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theory and Practice in System Dynamics Modelling)
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Open AccessArticle Nonlinear Phenomena in Cournot Duopoly Model
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 24 June 2018 / Accepted: 9 July 2018 / Published: 13 July 2018
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Abstract
The economic world is very dynamic, and most phenomena appearing in this world are mutually interconnected. These connections may result in the emergence of nonlinear relationships among economic agents. Research discussions about different markets’ structures cannot be considered as finished yet. Even such
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The economic world is very dynamic, and most phenomena appearing in this world are mutually interconnected. These connections may result in the emergence of nonlinear relationships among economic agents. Research discussions about different markets’ structures cannot be considered as finished yet. Even such a well-known concept as oligopoly can be described with different models applying diverse assumptions and using various values of parameters; for example, the Cournot duopoly game, Bertrand duopoly game or Stackelberg duopoly game can be and are used. These models usually assume linear functions and make analyses of the behavior of the two companies. The aim of this paper is to consider a nonlinear inverse demand function in the Cournot duopoly model. Supposing there is a sufficiently large proportion among the costs of the two companies, we can possibly detect nonlinear phenomena such as bifurcation of limit values of production or deterministic chaos. To prove a sensitive dependence on the initial condition, which accompanies deterministic chaos, the concept of Lyapunov exponents is used. We also point out the fact that even though some particular values of parameters are irrelevant for the above-mentioned nonlinear phenomena, it is worth being aware of their existence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling of Economic Systems)
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Open AccessCase Report Systems Thinking Education—Seeing the Forest through the Trees
Received: 3 May 2018 / Revised: 20 June 2018 / Accepted: 6 July 2018 / Published: 12 July 2018
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Abstract
Systems thinking is an indispensable tool in comprehending and analyzing real-world phenomena. Observed processes are naturally composed of many interconnected components which ought to be studied jointly rather than individually. Engineering systems thinking is a very valuable skill, which helps to successfully execute
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Systems thinking is an indispensable tool in comprehending and analyzing real-world phenomena. Observed processes are naturally composed of many interconnected components which ought to be studied jointly rather than individually. Engineering systems thinking is a very valuable skill, which helps to successfully execute multi-disciplinary projects. In high-tech companies that deal with complex and dynamic systems projects, the need for engineers with high systems thinking skills is growing. Engineers with high systems thinking skills are able to understand the big picture and the project in its entirety, both functionally and conceptually, without necessarily knowing all of the small details. Systems thinking enables understanding the entire system beyond its components, and clarifies the importance of the isolated component as part of the system as a whole. Systems thinking helps understand how sub-systems connect to one whole system, and provides solutions for the client’s specifications and requirements. In addition, systems thinking enables perceiving the inter-relationships and mutual influence among the system’s components and other systems. The current study examined the development of systems thinking among engineers and engineering students. In addition, the personality traits of engineers with high systems thinking skills were examined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality type test. This article also presents the initial results of the development of a new systems thinking study course, taught as a pilot course to industrial and management engineering students. It seems that engineers with certain personality traits can acquire or improve their systems thinking capabilities through a gradual, long-term learning process and by acquiring the necessary tools. Additionally, the study includes recommendations for the continuation of ongoing research on developing systems thinking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Thinking)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Non-Systemic Usages of Systems as Reductionism: Quasi-Systems and Quasi-Systemics
Received: 10 June 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 11 July 2018
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Abstract
Usual reductionism considers systemic, acquired properties as non-systemic, possessed properties. We consider here the non-systemic usages of systems, misunderstood as non-interacting virtual objects or devices, and the misunderstanding between non-complex (first Systemics) and complex systems (second Systemics) as another form of reductionism. This
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Usual reductionism considers systemic, acquired properties as non-systemic, possessed properties. We consider here the non-systemic usages of systems, misunderstood as non-interacting virtual objects or devices, and the misunderstanding between non-complex (first Systemics) and complex systems (second Systemics) as another form of reductionism. This reductionism leads to inappropriate and ineffective approaches, particularly dealing with complex systems such as socioeconomic systems, whose complexity is often misunderstood and neglected. However, this reductionism should be distinguished from mixed usages of systemic approaches suitable to deal with multiple, dynamic, temporary, and partial systemic natures of phenomena related to complex systems. We consider that we should move from the well-defined, often simplistic, world of Systemics to Quasi-Systemics, which is intended as constructionist Systemics, always in progress, non-ideological, multiple, contradiction-tolerant, incomplete, and in its turn emergent. Rather than recommending a pragmatic attitude, we mention two approaches, one methodological approach called Logical Openness and another, the Meta-Structure approach, which is suitable to more formally deal with such multiple aspects and—based on mesoscopic representations—suitable to represent quasiness. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Systematic Framework for Exploring Worldviews and Its Generalization as a Multi-Purpose Inquiry Framework
Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 5 July 2018 / Accepted: 5 July 2018 / Published: 10 July 2018
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Abstract
Systems science methodologies do not have a consistent way of working with worldviews, even though determining stakeholder perspectives is central to systems thinking. In this paper, we propose a comprehensive “Worldview Inquiry Framework” that can be used across methodologies to govern the process
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Systems science methodologies do not have a consistent way of working with worldviews, even though determining stakeholder perspectives is central to systems thinking. In this paper, we propose a comprehensive “Worldview Inquiry Framework” that can be used across methodologies to govern the process of eliciting, documenting, and comparing the worldviews of stakeholders. We discuss the systemicity of worldviews and explain how this can help practitioners to find the roots of stakeholders’ disagreements about value judgements. We then generalize the structure of the Worldview Inquiry Framework to produce a “General Inquiry Framework” that can be used to govern an inquiry process in other contexts. We show that the presented Worldview Inquiry Framework is a special case of this General Inquiry Framework and show how the General Inquiry Framework can be tailored for other contexts such as problem solving, product design, and fundamental research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Thinking)
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Open AccessCommunication Reliable Autonomous Production Systems: Combining Industrial Engineering Methods and Situation Awareness Modelling in Critical Realist Design of Autonomous Production Systems
Received: 4 April 2018 / Revised: 19 June 2018 / Accepted: 19 June 2018 / Published: 26 June 2018
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Abstract
Autonomous production needs to be reliable. Outputs from reliable production systems consistently conform to performance requirements. By contrast, outputs from unreliable production systems often do not conform to performance requirements. Unreliable production can lead to accidents, rework, scrap, loss of good will, etc.
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Autonomous production needs to be reliable. Outputs from reliable production systems consistently conform to performance requirements. By contrast, outputs from unreliable production systems often do not conform to performance requirements. Unreliable production can lead to accidents, rework, scrap, loss of good will, etc. In this communication paper, comparative analyses are provided of work characteristics in the manufacturing and construction industries, which affect opportunities for reliable high-level autonomous production systems. Analyses indicate that there are strong opportunities and weak opportunities for reliable high-level autonomous production systems in these industries. In the strongest opportunities, there is repeated work certainty; the composition of work involves few materials/parts that have little variation; and work is carried out in settings that require no additional engineering to facilitate reliable autonomous production. In the weakest opportunities, work settings require extensive additional engineering; the composition of work involves many materials/parts that have lots of variation; the work to be done is not certain until completion and then it is never repeated. It is explained that when seeking to improve weak opportunities for reliable high-level autonomous production systems, industrial engineering methods and situation awareness modelling can be combined within a critical realist framework in order to address challenges in work setting, composition and uncertainty. Full article
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