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Discrete-Event Simulation and System Dynamics for Management Decision Making by Sally Brailsford, Leonid Churilov, Brian Dangerfield

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4Combining Problem Structuring Methods with Simulation: The Philosophical and Practical Challenges

Kathy Kotiadis and John Mingers

Kent Business School University of Kent, Canterbury UK

4.1 Introduction

Combinations of problem structuring methods (PSMs) such as soft systems methodology (SSM) with simulation methods such as discrete-event simulation (DES) and system dynamics (SD) report benefits. These benefits include: the PSM enabling the participation of staff in the modelling process (Lehaney and Paul, 1996), enabling a better understanding of the situation of interest (Paucar-Caceres and Rodriguez-Ulloa, 2007; Kotiadis, 2007) and enabling the situation to be expressed and structured (Paucar-Caceres and Rodriguez-Ulloa, 2007; Kotiadis, 2007). A 10-year review (1998–2008) of mixing operational research (OR) methods in practice (Howick and Ackermann, 2011) only found around 15 papers to involve a simulation method (DES and/or SD). From this we can extrapolate that, although hundreds of simulation papers have been published in that time period, only a handful of these involve a multimethodology. In addition, the review (Howick and Ackermann, 2011) also revealed that most of these simulation combinations involved a PSM.

In this chapter we reflect on the barriers to such combinations, which can be seen at various levels such as the philosophical level – paradigm incommensurability – and the cognitive level – type of personality and cognitive difficulty of switching paradigm. ...

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