Modeling with Stakeholders for Transformative Change (2019)

van Bruggen, A.; Nikolic, I.; Kwakkel, J. Modeling with Stakeholders for Transformative Change. Sustainability 201911, 825.


Coherent responses to important problems such as climate change require involving a multitude of stakeholders in a transformative process leading to development of policy pathways. The process of coming to an agreement on policy pathways requires critical reflection on underlying system conceptualizations and commitment to building capacity in all stakeholders engaged in a social learning process. Simulation models can support such processes by providing a boundary object or negotiating artifact that allows stakeholders to deliberate through a multi-interpretable, consistent, transparent, and verifiable representation of reality. The challenge is how to structure the transdisciplinary process of involving stakeholders in simulation modeling and how to know when such a process can be labeled as transformative. There is a proliferation of approaches for this across disciplines, of which this article identifies Group Model Building, Companion Modeling, Challenge-and-Reconstruct Learning, and generic environmental modeling as the most prominent. This article systematically reviews relevant theories, terminology, principles, and methodologies across these four approaches to build a framework that can facilitate further learning. The article also provides a typology of approaches to modeling with stakeholders. It distinguishes transformative approaches that involve stakeholders from representative, instrumental and nominal forms. It is based on an extensive literature review, supported by twenty-three semi-structured interviews with participatory and non-participatory modelers. The article brings order into the abundance of conceptions of transformation, the role of simulation models in transformative change processes, the role of participation of stakeholders, and what type of approaches to modeling with stakeholders are befitting in the development of policy pathways.

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