DOI: 10.1002/sdr.1755 ISSN: 0883-7066

Ethical considerations of using system dynamics in participatory settings: a social‐ecological‐systems perspective

Henry Amorocho‐Daza, Pieter van der Zaag, Janez Sušnik
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


The social‐ecological systems (SES) approach elicits a broad understanding of some of the most pressing socionatural challenges (e.g. resource scarcity, biodiversity loss, and climate change) and the responsibility that humans have in addressing them. System dynamics has proven a powerful paradigm for dealing with complex SES‐related issues. Here we discuss some ethical considerations of using system dynamics (SD) to model SES, something that is often either overlooked or discussed as an isolated issue. Sustainable development and human rights are used as ethical standpoints across the modelling cycle, opening the discussion around guiding principles that need to be considered when modelling SES. Based on these, a set of guiding ethical questions are identified and classified across a participatory SD modelling cycle. This structured approach is a simple yet potentially useful tool for SD practitioners to examine the ethical implications of their modelling endeavours in the context of grand societal challenges. © 2023 The Authors. System Dynamics Review published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of System Dynamics Society.

More from our Archive