Facoltà di scienze economiche

From context to system and back : how systems emerge from actors cognitive and social interactions : a system dynamics perspective

Colombo, Gianluca ; Mollona, Edoardo

In this paper, the system is viewed as a construction based on the actors’ cognitive and social interactions. The system is the result of multiple – actor sense making (Weick 1995), but at the same time it orients social sense making. In this process each actor’s point of view is a representation of both the system and the context perceived as pertinent by the actor. In other words, the... More

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    Summary
    In this paper, the system is viewed as a construction based on the actors’ cognitive and social interactions. The system is the result of multiple – actor sense making (Weick 1995), but at the same time it orients social sense making. In this process each actor’s point of view is a representation of both the system and the context perceived as pertinent by the actor. In other words, the actor defines a strategy which couples him/her with the system and with the context at the same time. We consider that system and context co-evolve through (and orient) the actors’ interactions. We approach System Dynamics (SD) as the grammar (Burke 1968) of these interactions. As a grammar, SD frames the actors’ social and cognitive interactions, and poses few limitations to the actors’ freedom (and creativity) in comprehending system – context relationships. We demonstrate, in particular, that SD provides a simplistic representation of ago – antagonistic relationships. The paper addresses both the advantages and the limits of SD in building a multiple – actor approach to system – context coupling. The example of the strategic management model of an airport illustrates our position.