T01P10 - Systems Theory and Modelling for Public Policy: System Dynamics, Agent-based Models, and Other Approaches

Topic : Policy Process Theories

Panel Chair : Inna Krachkovskaya - inna@asquer.com

Panel Second Chair : Alberto Asquer - aa144@soas.ac.uk

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

The panel aims to raise attention to the systems theory approach. The approach notoriously originates in the 1950s at least and gained some attention in various disciplines in the following decades. The role of systems theory in social science generally, and in public policy in particular, however, remained relatively modest. At the theoretical and methodological level, the concepts of systems theory have been relatively under-utilised when theorising about the policy process. Some methodologies for operationalising the systems theory approach - like systems dynamics and agent-based models - gained some attention but they have remained somehow limited to specific applications. 

The expected results from the panel consist of a fresh view onto the ways systems theory is used in the study of the policy process. Studies that relate the systems theory approach to public policy would be helpful to critically assess the potential contributions of the former to the latter. Studies that show how principles of systems theory can result in pieces of policy analysis, policy design, guidelines for policy implementation, and policy evaluation, are also welcome because they can help forming and consolidating a literature around the approach.

Call for papers

Systems theory - that is, the interdisciplinary study of systems in general and of the dynamic properties that they exhibit - has been long applied in many fields of scholarly inquiry, including biology, ecology, and engineering. Yet, the use of a systems theory approach to public policy has been relatively modest so far. In part, it would be fair to acknowledge that theories of the policy process are systemic in nature, in the sense that they build on an ontology of component parts (including policy-makers, constituencies, lobbies, target groups, and various other stakeholders) and on an epistemology that posits attention to mutual influences between them. Theories of the policy process, however, make relatively little use of the conceptual resources of systems theory, such as the importance of feedback loops, the cascading effects of small perturbations, and the emergence of aggregated behaviour out of interactions between component parts.

This panel aims to bring together scholars who are interested in the application of systems theory to the policy process. We welcome works that:

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