Using white-box nonlinear optimization methods in system dynamics policy improvement

We present a new strategy for the direct optimization of the values of policy functions. This approach is particularly well suited to model actors with a global perspective on the system and relies heavily on modern mathematical white-box optimization methods. We demonstrate our strategy on two classical models: market growth and World. Each model is first transformed into an optimization problem by defining how the actor can influence the models’ dynamics and by choosing objective functions to measure improvements. To improve comparability between different runs, we also introduce a comparison measure for possible interventions. We solve the optimization problems, discuss the resulting policies and compare them to the existing results from the literature. In particular, we present a run of the World2 model which significantly improves the published “towards a global equilibrium” run with equal cost of intervention.

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Digitale Welten: Neue Ansätze in der Wirtschafts- und Sozialkybernetik

Digitale Welten durchdringen Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft und dabei bilden Modelle und Algorithmen die Basis für die Bewältigung deren Komplexität. Das Buch “Digitale Welten: Neue Ansätze in der Wirtschafts- und Sozialkybernetik” stellt ein breites Einsatzspektrum kybernetischer Ansätze in aktuellen Themenfeldern dar. Es veranschaulicht wie Simulationen und kybernetische Modelle und Methoden in vielfältigen, komplexen Entscheidungssituationen zur Analyse und Gestaltung von Lösungen verwendet werden können.

Die im Buch beschriebenen Anwendungsbereiche reichen von Lehr- und Lernkontexten über Netzwerke, Unternehmen und Produktionssysteme bis hin zur kritischen grundsätzlichen Reflexion über Simulation und ihren Einsatz. Die Beiträge zeigen die Vielfalt an kybernetischen Konzepten, Methoden und Modellen in unterschiedlichen Disziplinen auf und belegen die Aktualität der kybernetischen Perspektive.

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Türöffner-Events 2017: Gelebte Energiezukunft: Bauen für morgen

Im Rahmen der Veranstaltung “Bauen für morgen”, welche am 15. Juni 2017 in Nidau in der Berner Fachhochschule BFH stattfindet, steht das Thema Energiespeicherung im Zentrum.

Unterschiedliche Forschungsgruppen der BFH und das PV-Center des «Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique SA» (CSEM, Neuenburg) sind in den neuen Forschungslabors im Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne tätig und stellen Nutzungsarten und Geschäftsmodelle vor, die aufzeigen wie das Potenzial nachhaltiger Energiequellen wie Photovoltaik und Wind besser besser ausgeschöpft werden können. Mehr Informationen zum Anlass

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New Springer-book publishes the results from an EU-project: “Dynamics of Long-Life Assets”

The editors present essential methods and tools to support a holistic approach to the challenge of system upgrades and innovation in the context of high-value products and services. The approach presented here is based on three main pillars: an adaptation mechanism based on a broad understanding of system dependencies; efficient use of system knowledge through involvement of actors throughout the process; and technological solutions to enable efficient actor communication and information handling.

The book provides readers with a better understanding of the factors that influence decisions, and put forward solutions to facilitate the rapid adaptation to changes in the business environment and customer needs through intelligent upgrade interventions. Further, it examines a number of sample cases from various contexts including car manufacturing, utilities, shipping and the furniture industry. The book offers a valuable resource for both academics and practitioners interested in the upgrading of capital-intensive products and services.

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The book is the result from the EU-project Use-It-Wisely.


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Projekte scheitern wegen dynamischer Komplexität : Qualitative Feedbackmodellierung zur Komplexitätsbewältigung

Gründe für nicht erfolgreiche Projekte sind zum Beispiel Kommunikationsprobleme oder Mangel an qualifizierten Projektmitarbeitern. Dies sind jedoch nur Symptome für tiefer liegende Ursachen. Eine wesentliche davon ist dynamische Komplexität, welche durch die Eigenschaften eines Systems (Verzögerungen, Rückkopplungsbeziehungen, Akkumulationen, Nichtlinearitäten) erzeugt wird. Dynamische Komplexität unterscheidet sich fundamental von Detailkomplexität. Der grösste Hebel für Projektverbesserungen liegt im Management dynamischer Komplexität. Jedoch fehlen die dafür benötigten Methoden weitestgehend. Dieser Artikel stellt Feedbackmodellierung als eine Möglichkeit vor, dynamische Komplexität zu erfassen. Dadurch kann die Planung wie das Management von Projekten robuster ausgestaltet werden. Der gesamte Artikel kann hier heruntergeladen werden.

Mehr Informationen zum Artikel: Research Platform Alexandria

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Co-Evolution of Standards in Innovation Systems

This book addresses the phenomenon of coevolution of standards in residential built environments. It develops a feedback-rich simulation model of the revelatory case of the Swiss residential built environment, first, in order to explain the historical coevolution of standards in this system and, second, to analyze the effects of different administrative polices on energy demand, improvements of energy efficiency in building codes, and estimating reductions in the Swiss green-house gas emissions until 2050.

„A valuable frameworks for researchers and decision makers to assess the adequacy of models and validity of analyses of complex dynamic systems such as the one that determines the energy efficiency of buildings.“ (Professor Henry B. Weil)

Springer Link  | Research Platform Alexandria

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Leadership and the art of predicting the future of healthcare

Abstract from the presentation at the 22nd congress of the EAHP:

In current business and economy scenarios, hospital pharmacy is facing major challenges to fulfil its mandate to provide medicines due to repeated disruptions of the supply chain and shortages of any kind. Regardless as to whether such situations could have been avoided by early and proper actions such as key account management, future behaviour of hospital pharmacy managers should ensure a high degree of compliance to the mandate and accountability for the patients’ interest. Read more ›

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Fit for a digital future: Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Management Science at the BFH

No industry will be able to dodge the digitalisation of the economy. Starting in autumn 2017, the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) will be training industrial engineers, ready to face future challenges – studying at the interfaces between technology, computer science and business. The studies – which are taking place at the Campus Biel/Bienne – combine know-how from engineering sciences and business management to realise intelligent value-added networks. Click here if for further information about the study-programm


First Competence Development Framework for System Dynamics published

Schaffernicht and Groesser published the first competence development framework for the system dynamics methodology. Even though the article is published in the System Dynamics Review (peer-review, ISI journal), it is available via open access to anyone (

For the interested reader, here is the abstract:

Current teaching and learning of system dynamics are based on materials derived from the expertise of masters. However, there is little explicit reference to neither the stages which beginners go through to become proficient nor what is learned at each of these stages. We argue that this hinders cumulative research and development in teaching and learning strategies. We engaged 15 acknowledged masters in the field to take part in a three-round Delphi study to develop an operational representation of the competence development stages and what is learned at each stage. The resulting system dynamics competence framework consists of a qualified, expert-evaluated, empirically based set of seven skills and 265 learning outcomes. The skills provide a common orientation, in the language of current educational research, to facilitate research, course design and certification efforts to ensure quality standards. To conclude, this paper provides avenues for future work.

You can access the list of learning outcomes on a specific part of my webpage here.


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New insights about using strategy tools at the Academy of Management Conference #AOM

Stefan Groesser represented the Strategy and Simulation lab at the Academy of Management Conference 2016 in Anaheim, USA. He presented joint projects with colleagues Adrian Stettler and Claus Jacobs on the actual use of strategy tools employing the eye-tracking methodology. The research reveals the learning behavior of users and presents insights about the decision making process while using strategy tools. The findings indicate that different representations of the same tool can influence how the tool is learned and that the gaze data can be used to predict the actual decision made.


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