Participatory modelling and systems intelligence: A systems-based and transdisciplinary partnership

Daniel C. Kenny*, Elena Bakhanova, Raimo P. Hämäläinen, Alexey Voinov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Systems Intelligence (SI) can contribute to the design and practice of Participatory Modelling (PM) by paying attention to the interplay of the ‘soft’ socio-emotional system created by the actors involved and the dynamics created by their interactions and the ‘hard’ structure of the process. Here, we argue that by combining the perspective of SI with the four functions of PM (normative, substantive, instrumental, and educational), we can strengthen a collaborative and positive PM process, systematically designed to create socio-emotional decisions that stakeholders bring out into a wider system with them. This entails drawing from the four functions of PM, (normative, substantive, instrumental, and educational). To provide a blueprint of how each function might be achieved, we examine, through a transdisciplinary lens, the characteristics of each function, the sub-components and practical suggestions of how that might be applied in a PM context. Our main focus is to encourage a systems-based approach to achieving these functions, thereby avoiding piecemeal solutions, so we explore how the perspective of Systems Intelligence provides a lens and organizing structure to consider, design and facilitate PM. SI can help us to conceptualize and design PM, as it understands the central role of people within a dynamic system, a key starting point for those looking to design or direct their own PM process or for those searching (researchers, practitioners, or policymakers) for long-term solutions to problems of socio-ecological systems (SES). We look at how these two fields, PM and SI, might combine in practice, and suggest several promising areas of study to explore further. These insights will be of use to PM facilitators and researchers, as well as others using participatory methods in addressing SES challenges, particularly those encouraging the adoption of systemic perspectives, like Systems Intelligence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101310
Number of pages19
JournalSocio-Economic Planning Sciences
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


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