The emergence and use of diagramming in system dynamics: a critical account
Lane, D. C. (2008) The emergence and use of diagramming in system dynamics: a critical account. Systems Research & Behavioral Science, 25 (1). pp. 3-23. ISSN 1092-7026
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/sres.826
The paper reviews the leading diagramming methods employed in system dynamics to communicate the contents of models. The main ideas and historical development of the field are first outlined. Two diagramming methods—causal loop diagrams (CLDs) and stock/flow diagrams (SFDs)—are then described and their advantages and limitations discussed. A set of broad research directions is then outlined. These concern: the abilities of different diagrams to communicate different ideas, the role that diagrams have in group model building, and the question of whether diagrams can be an adequate substitute for simulation modelling. The paper closes by suggesting that although diagrams alone are insufficient, they have many benefits. However, since these benefits have emerged only as ‘craft wisdom’, a more rigorous programme of research into the diagrams' respective attributes is called for.