System dynamics perspectives and modeling opportunities for research in operations management

November 2015 | Oliva, Rogelio

The OM research community has a long tradition of dynamic modeling, going back at least to the pioneering work of Forrester (1958) and Holt, Modigliani, Muth and Simon (1960). These innovators recognized that even core processes in organizations, such as production and supply chain management, involve critical feedbacks with other organizational functions and with other organizations and actors including customers, suppliers, workers, competitors, financial markets, and others. They recognized that these interactions and feedbacks often involve significant time delays, nonlinearities, information distortions, and behavioral responses that often cause dysfunctional, suboptimal behavior and slow learning and process improvement. The challenge, however, has been to develop, articulate and test parsimonious theories to explain the behavior of complex systems, to test policies for improvement, to implement these in real organizations, and to assess their impact over time. Forrester’s insight was to use ideas from control theory to map and explain industrial problems (Forrester 1958, 1961; Richardson 1991 traces the history of feedback control and systems theory from the Greeks through the development of nonlinear dynamics).



  • Sterman JD
  • Linderman K
  • Bendoly E


Journal of Operations Management 39-40:1-5.

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