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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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15The Ways Forward: A Personal View of System Dynamics and Discrete-Event Simulation

Michael Pidd

Lancaster Business School, University of Lancaster, UK

15.1 Genesis

In a chapter that speculates on the future, it seems wise to begin by looking backwards to see what we can learn. Both system dynamics and discrete-event simulation have been used for over 50 years. System dynamics, originally christened industrial dynamics by its MIT-based, founding father Jay Forrester, was born in the late 1950s. The first publication had the title ‘Industrial dynamics: a major breakthrough for decision makers’ (Forrester, 1958) and later became the second chapter of the book Industrial Dynamics (Forrester, 1961), which presents and explains the methods and assumptions of what we now refer to as system dynamics. Given Forrester's engineering background it is hardly surprising that system dynamics treats system structure and feedback control as key to system behaviour. Forrester's argument in these early publications promoting industrial dynamics is based on a straightforward analogy between control engineering and organisational behaviour. Forrester (1961) argues that organisations include feedback structures that need to be understood and managed to achieve high performance. Forrester argued that industrial dynamics provided the tools needed to do this.

If the approach now known as system dynamics appeared largely as the result of one man's work, doubtless supported by others, the origins of ...

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