Convergence of the Social Fabric Matrix and Complex Modeling

  • Michael J. Radzicki


System dynamics is a computer modeling technique that is used to solve problems in complex socioeconomic systems through the design or redesign of system structure. Its application often involves the elicitation and mapping of knowledge from experts and stakeholders who possess detailed information about the relevant structure and behavior of the system under study. A digital computer is then used to accurately trace through the dynamics inherent in the mapping – a task that humans cannot do reliably via thought and debate due to their inherent cognitive limitations.

The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate how Hayden’s Social Fabric Matrix can add value to system dynamics modeling by introducing discipline and an organizational framework based on institutional economic theory to the knowledge elicitation process. Potential pitfalls are discussed and examples are provided. An important conclusion is that the combination of the two tools can be profitably used for consensus building among experts – a result that is vital for effective policy formulation.


System Dynamic Model General System Theory Socioeconomic System Causal Loop Knowledge Elicitation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Binder T, Vox A, Belyazid S et al (2008) Developing system dynamics models from causal loop diagrams. Accessed 17 Feb 2009
  2. Burns JR (1977) Converting signed digraphs to Forrester schematics and converting Forrester schematics to differential equations. IEEE Trans Syst Man Cybernet 7:695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burns JR, Ulgen O (2002) A matrix architecture for development of system dynamics models. Proceedings of the twentieth annual conference of the System Dynamics Society. Palermo, Italy. Accessed 17 Feb 2009
  4. Forrester JW (1968) Principles of systems, 3rd edn. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  5. Forrester JW (1985) ‘The model’ versus a modeling ‘process’. Syst Dyn Rev 1:133–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gill R (1996) An integrated social fabric matrix/system dynamics approach to policy analysis. Syst Dyn Rev 12:167–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gill R, Wolfenden JAJ (1998) A system dynamics based planning solution for integrated environmental management and policy: the IDeaMaP toolbox. Proceedings of the sixteenth annual conference of the System Dynamics Society. Quebec City, Canada. Accessed 17 Feb 2009
  8. Hayden FG (1982a) Social fabric matrix: from perspective to analytical tool. J Econ Issues 16:637–662Google Scholar
  9. Hayden FG (1982b) Organizing policy research through the social fabric matrix: a Boolean digraph approach. J Econ Issues 16:1013–1026Google Scholar
  10. Hayden FG (2006) Policymaking for a good society: the social fabric matrix approach to policy analysis and program evaluation. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Lane D (2008) The emergence and use of diagramming in system dynamics: a critical account. Syst Res Behav Sci 25:3–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Radzicki M (1988) A note on Kelsey’s ‘The Economics of Chaos or the Chaos of Economics’. Oxford Econ Papers 40:692–693Google Scholar
  13. Randers J (1980) Guidelines for model conceptualization. In: Randers J (ed) Elements of the system dynamics method. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  14. Richardson GP (1986) Problems with causal loop diagrams. Syst Dyn Rev 2:158–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Richardson GP (1991) Feedback thought in social science and systems theory. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PAGoogle Scholar
  16. Richardson GP (1997) Problems in causal loop diagrams revisited. Syst Dyn Rev 13:247–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Richardson GP, Wolstenholme EF, Morecroft JDW (1994) Special issue: systems thinkers, systems thinking. Syst Dyn Rev 10:95–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Saeed K (1992) Slicing a complex problem. Syst Dyn Rev 8:251–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sterman J (2000) Business dynamics: systems thinking and modeling for a complex world. Irwin McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Tool MR (2003) The 2003 Veblen-Commons Award Recipient: F Gregory Hayden. J Econ Issues 37:239–241Google Scholar
  21. Vennix JAM (1996) Group model building: facilitating team learning using system dynamics. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Vennix JAM, Andersen DF, Richardson GP (1997) Special Issue: Group Model Building. Syst Dyn Rev 13:103–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wilber CK, Harrison RS (1978) The methodological basis of institutional economics: pattern model, storytelling, and holism. J Econ Issues 12:61–89Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Radzicki
    • 1
  1. 1.Worcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcesterUSA

Personalised recommendations