Special Issue "Systems Thinking: Concepts, Issues, and Applications in Large Complex Systems"

A special issue of Systems (ISSN 2079-8954).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019) | Viewed by 39399

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Raed M. Jaradat
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Bagley College of Engineering, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS 39759, USA
Interests: systems thinking and complex systems; systems engineering; engineering management; risk management and system of systems
Prof. Dr. Chuck Keating
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Director, National Centers for System of Systems Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
Interests: complex system governance; system of systems engineering; systems engineering; management cybernetics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue is focused on exploring concepts, applications, and future prospects for systems thinking to deal with increasingly complex systems and their problems. The current landscape of systems practitioners is marked by sprawling complexity, exponential rise in information, technology proliferation, excessive uncertainty, and increasing ambiguity. Although systems thinking has multiple variants and perspectives, there appears to be convergence that it offers an approach to better contend with this landscape. Three primary aims targeted by this Special Issue include:

  1. Explorations across the range of theoretical, methodological, philosophical perspectives that provide a conceptual foundation for systems thinking,
  2. Examination of critical issues related to future development and deployment of systems thinking to improve capabilities for dealing with complexity, and
  3. Present a variety of applications that demonstrate the utility offered by systems thinking. The Special Issue will serve to articulate the present state, utility, and development issues for the systems thinking field as it struggles to improve societal prospects to better address increasingly complex systems and their problems.

In this special call, we invite scholars to explore how individuals and organizations can better manage and understand complex systems. Please prepare the manuscript according to MDPI author’s guidelines (https://www.mdpi.com/journal/systems/instructions) and submit to the journal’s manuscript central site (https://susy.mdpi.com/user/manuscripts/upload?journal=systems). Please clearly state in the cover letter that the submission is for this Special Issue.

Dr. Raed M Jaradat
Prof. Dr. Charles Keating
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Systems is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Systems Thinking
  • Systems Theory
  • Complexity
  • Applications

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Communication
A Systems Approach to Establishing an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Institute
Systems 2019, 7(3), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/systems7030041 - 16 Aug 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3233
Abstract
Systems engineering is a methodology where an interdisciplinary approach is applied, using systems thinking, to the development of a system of interest. The systems engineering discipline has emerged as an effective way to guide the engineering of complex systems, but has been applied [...] Read more.
Systems engineering is a methodology where an interdisciplinary approach is applied, using systems thinking, to the development of a system of interest. The systems engineering discipline has emerged as an effective way to guide the engineering of complex systems, but has been applied most readily in the realm of cyber physical systems. In some circles of the Federal Government, the mention of systems engineering processes immediately leads people to think of a long, inefficient effort due to an often applied bureaucratic approach, where the focus is on documentation rather than the development of the system of interest, which comes from a view that the product of the systems engineering effort is the document, not the system itself. In this paper, the authors describe the application of systems thinking and the systems engineering process to the design and creation of an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII, part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) established under Department of Defense (DoD) authority for the Office of the President, that was swift, efficient, and implemented without formality. Full article
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Article
Developing a Systematic Diagnostic Model for Integrated Agricultural Supply and Processing Systems
Systems 2019, 7(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/systems7010015 - 12 Mar 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4866
Abstract
Despite all the innovative research in agriculture, technology adoption in integrated agricultural supply and processing systems (IASPS) remains a challenge. This is attributed to the complex nature of IASPS and the continued lack of a holistic view towards most of the interventions into [...] Read more.
Despite all the innovative research in agriculture, technology adoption in integrated agricultural supply and processing systems (IASPS) remains a challenge. This is attributed to the complex nature of IASPS and the continued lack of a holistic view towards most of the interventions into the systems. To make sense of issues that affect IASPS, it is important to recognise that most issues within these systems do not exist in isolation, but are imbedded within complex interrelationships. This research developed and demonstrated a systematic diagnostic model that could be used to locate high leverage intervention points within IASPS and to make predictions about the systems behaviour. A meta-analysis was conducted to test the evidence of the interlinkages between IASPS domains and to compare the strength of these relationships. The model revealed that the collaboration, structure and information sharing domains had a higher direct leverage over the other IASPS domains as these were associated with a larger number of interlinkages. Additionally, collaboration and structure provided dynamic leverage as these domains were part of feedback loops. In terms of the potency, collaboration was highly correlated to culture compared to the other domains, viz., information sharing, coercive power and transaction costs. Full article
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Article
Applying Systems Thinking to Engineering and Design
Systems 2018, 6(3), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/systems6030034 - 19 Sep 2018
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 6987
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 [...] Read more.
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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Article
An Integrated Participatory Systems Modelling Approach: Application to Construction Innovation
Systems 2018, 6(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/systems6030033 - 20 Aug 2018
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 6007
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 [...] Read more.
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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Technical Note
Making Sense of Complexity: Using SenseMaker as a Research Tool
Systems 2019, 7(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/systems7020025 - 01 May 2019
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 9824
Abstract
There is growing interest in studying processes of human sensemaking, as this strongly influences human and organizational behavior as well as complex system dynamics due to the diverse lenses people use to interpret and act in the world. The Cognitive Edge SenseMaker® [...] Read more.
There is growing interest in studying processes of human sensemaking, as this strongly influences human and organizational behavior as well as complex system dynamics due to the diverse lenses people use to interpret and act in the world. The Cognitive Edge SenseMaker® tool is one method for capturing and making sense of people’s attitudes, perceptions, and experiences. It is used for monitoring and evaluation; mapping ideas, mind-sets, and attitudes; and detecting trends and weak signals. However, academic literature describing the tool-set and method is lacking. This introduction aims to guide researchers in choosing when to use SenseMaker and to facilitate understanding of its execution and limitations. SenseMaker can provide nuanced insight into system-level patterns of human sensemaking that can provide insight to nudge systems towards more desirable futures, and enable researchers to measure beyond what they know. Full article
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Concept Paper
A Systems Thinking Approach to Corporate Strategy Development
Systems 2019, 7(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/systems7010016 - 12 Mar 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 7811
Abstract
In an increasingly complex business environment, companies need to reassess their strategic choices on a regular basis. However, companies are struggling to collect and efficiently interpret the relevant information on their business environment. Whereas market information is often analyzed, influences from the broader [...] Read more.
In an increasingly complex business environment, companies need to reassess their strategic choices on a regular basis. However, companies are struggling to collect and efficiently interpret the relevant information on their business environment. Whereas market information is often analyzed, influences from the broader environment (e.g., society) are often neglected. This paper argues that companies often lack a systemic approach to their strategy development process, and that environmental influences are only considered selectively. We suggest that companies themselves need to be seen as systems that are embedded in a complex environment. To develop a successful strategic orientation, a systematic screening of the environment must be coupled with a thorough analysis of the firm’s internal circumstances (e.g., competencies). Therefore, the paper proposes a holistic framework for conceiving companies as systems. Furthermore, we discuss how the scenario technique could support a systematic analysis of the company’s environment. The paper also aims to provide practical guidelines for managers and contributes to integrating a systems thinking approach into strategy development. Full article
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