SIG and Exploratory Groups Full Call for Papers

SIG and Exploratory Groups Full Call for Papers

Online Descriptions and Calls for Papers

The conference theme, guiding questions, and sub-themes serve as platforms for consideration by the various Special Integration and Exploratory Groups that comprise the governance of ISSS.

See also Special Integration Groups, a page that describes the ISSS-wide purpose and organization of the SIGs.

See also Awards for Best Student Paper.

SIG: Action Research

SIG Chair: Shankar Sankaran


The focus of the AR SIG at ISSS is on the application of action research approaches to Systems Sciences where Action Research is defined as “a participatory, democratic process concerned with developing practical knowing in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in a participatory worldview which we believe is emerging at this historical moment. It seeks to bring together action and reflection, theory and practice, in participation with others, in the pursuit of practical solutions of pressing concern to people and more generally the flourishing of individual persons and their communities”. (Reason and Bradbury 2008, p. 4).

You are encouraged to submit papers to either conference that meets the aims of the action research SIG as well as the respective conference theme.  Alternatively, you can consider submitting papers that would be of interest to action researchers and system scientists to build long term research collaboration between members of ISSS to apply action research to advance systems sciences.

If you want your paper to be blind reviewed for the conference you will need to submit your full paper (maximum 8000 words including appendices and references) by the 31stMay 2016 for us to organise a blind review.  Otherwise an abstract of 300 words is sufficient to be considered for presenting at the conference. You also need to send an email to the SIG Chair for the respective conference indicating that a blind review is needed so that we can organise it.

Presentation Format: 20 minute presentation followed by short questions [5 mins] and a final wrap up with questions to all authors presenting in the sessions [15 Minutes].

If you need more information please contact the SIG Chair Professor Shankar Sankaran

SIG: Curating Emergence for Thrivability

SIG Chair: Alexander Laszlo and Dino Karabeg

Email: and

By focusing on the dynamics of emergence at the interface of human, technological and ecological systems, the CET SIG explores conditions that enable the emergence of self-directed sustainable networks of socio-technical systems.  What are the conditions that give rise to such systems of systems, and what are the requisit systemic leverage points and systemic nurturance spaces that allow them to blossom into thriving communities of impact?  By considering issues of connective and collective intelligence and applying insights from the nascent field of collaborology, the CET SIG seeks to identify and nurture patterns of thrivability and to design the socio-technical platforms needed to support them .

You are cordially invited to contribute a paper and/or poster for presentation in the Curating Emergence for Thrivability (CET) SIG (Systemic Inquiry Group). For more than a decade, this SIG has held productive meetings as an intact line of inquiry. Each year, the conference theme and focus provide an exciting platform upon which to catalyze the collective explorations of the CET SIG. This year’s theme of “Leadership for Sustainability of Socio-Ecological Systems: Unity in Diversity — Humanity in Technology” offers an excellent focal point for the considerations of our SIG.

To inspire you to join us, this Call presents the three principal types of interest groups we wish to include in our SIG, a few cases currently being explored, as well as a timeline of activities leading up to the conference.
CET SIG Interest Groups:

1. Specific projects of health and thrivability that have the potential to synergize with other initiatives. Experts and system innovators are encouraged to present specific living-cases (problems, situations or challenges and systems approaches to them) that successfully embody and enact individual and collective thrivability. The invitation explicitly aims at joining the group and assist in the curation of such presentations and the outcomes they seek to address.

2.  Communities of such projects and initiatives. Experts and system innovators are invited to assist in the incubation — or better, the greenhousing — of interdependent sets (interdependent groupings of solutions, responses or answers) of living cases (such as those considered in the previous point) that mark the emergence of evolutionary learning ecosystems.

3. Systems thinkers who can model the two previous levels and foster their learning dynamics. Experts and system innovators are encouraged to study and model the patterns and dynamics that give rise to evolutionary learning ecosystems and that can inform their successful curation in similar systems.

Presentation Format:     During the conference itself, no formal presentations are made, even though acceptance of both abstracts and full papers and/or posters is required. Instead, individuals will be asked to present a brief (5-10 minutes maximum, using no more than 3-5 slides, if any), informal overview to commence a conversation about the topic. Each overview should conclude with the question(s) the researcher is currently asking themselves.

  • Sessions are conducted as learning conversations focused on the intersection of, and emergent insights derived from, the presentations made.
  • In this manner, after a half hour of generative conversation in which participants have the opportunity to share the core ideas of their work with each other and the group attains a basic collective cognitive map of the research and constructs represented in the room, we divide the remaining hour into a strategic conversation (to identify areas of synergy, common themes and directions) and an evolutionary conversation (to create new knowledge and insights, and propose further collaborations).
  • Experiment with principles and practices of collaboration and community. Connect with peers with whom to experiment.

SIG: Designing Systems Education

SIG Chair: Ockie Bosch


The vision of the Special Integration Group for Systems Education vision is to create mechanisms and opportunities to take systems theories, concepts and tools that are created by research experts out of the academic circles and make it available to EVERYONE in society, regardless of background or area of interest, into practice where it can make a difference to the lives of people and contribute to sustaining a thrive-able planet.

The challenges we see every day are complex. All things are interconnected, but people continue to solve problems with a narrow focus and linear thinking. We address symptoms with quick fixes, instead of finding root causes and creating long term systemic solutions. We decide for ourselves, instead of considering the power of context within the system around us as a whole.

We need a new practical understanding of change and especially how systems underlie the fundamentals of change. When it comes to citizen education, there is a need to learn to see the world systemically and interconnected. We need to learn taking responsible action that will lead to effective change and implementing change as a business process. Of greatest importance is the fact that we need to learn how to embrace complexity as an integral part of change, rather than running away from it. 

Employers are increasingly requiring their employees to have the capacity to redesign in systems and sustainability terms. Understanding the principles of interconnectedness, feedback and leverage points in systems and appreciating the value of cross-sectoral/disciplinary and cross-cultural communication and collaboration are the only ways in which our societies will be able to find long lasting, sustainable solutions to the many problems we are all facing. This has increased the demand for systems education. In other words, how to use systems knowledge and tools to manage change has become essential for EVERYONE if we are serious about dealing with the complexities of a continuously changing world.

You are invited to submit papers that respond generally to the overall theme of the conference and specifically to ideas expressed in questions such as:

•        What can the sciences of complexity teach us about educational systems design that is concerned with Leadership options for achieving Socio-Ecological System Sustainability?

•        How do we educate future generations of citizens (local, national and global citizens) to understand Crisis, Anticipation, Resilience and Complexity in Natural and Human Systems?

•        How do we create an understanding of System Wholeness (Unity in Diversity as a natural principle)?

•        What innovative ideas have been proven effective to “infiltrate” existing conventional disciplines and university programs with Systems Thinking concepts?

Presentation format:        20 minutes + 10 Q&A

SIG: Ethics and Systems

SIG Chair: John Vodonick


Ethics is similar to a two faced Janus; one face looks backwards and adjudicates our completed actions, utterances and thoughts and the other face predicts what we will do in the future. The face that looks towards the past is embedded in “history” a cultural or personal narrative. The face that is predictive in nature looks to what can be imagined. Both environments are contextual, the past a retrospective narrative, the future an imagined narrative.

This SIG studies the ways that Systems Thinking informs Ethics, the ways that Ethics effects Systems Design and Intervention and the ways that Ethics can guide the Systems Practitioner.

What (or who) is part of the system and what (or who) is not part of the system? What model of making sense of the world around us shall we use? What issue or problem are we interested in? What sort of inquiry shall we engage in?  What state would we like to see the system move to?  Should we intervene in the system? What methodology should we use for our intervention?  All of these decisions (and more) are ethical decisions; they all concern the question “what shall be done?” The ethical question is the Systems Thinking elephant in the living room. It is the question that the SIG Ethics and Systems is concerned with. Day 1 of our conference is focused on whole systems thinking; Ethics and Systems is concerned with the delimitation of particular boundaries of the systems that we are concerned with. Some things or people will be part of the system and other things or people will be marginalized by our decision. Day 2 addresses anticipatory global science. What sorts of ethical models can and should we use in anticipating the issues that will be faced in our future? Day 3 addresses questions of social and cultural wisdom; what sorts of indigenous ways of knowing should be preserved and honoured; what sorts should be marginalized (if at all). What should we do to preserve this wisdom? Day 4 is set aside to think about Engineering and the creation of leadership for a sustainable future, everything we make or do has effects that are generally unanticipated; the decisions that are made in relationship to action are clearly ethical. The conference ends with consideration of issues relating to systems education. Who is to be educated, who will educate and what knowledge will be privileged or marginalized; these are all ethical questions that deserve our attention.

Presentation Format:       The format of this SIG will be 20 minute presentations (of any presentation format) followed by a ten minute Q &A.

SIG: Human Systems Inquiry

SIG Chair: Dennis Finlayson and Daryl Kulak


Systems thinking can be quite clean and predictive...until you include those messy elements we call...humans. This SIG is dedicated to analysis and synthesis of systems that take the human factor into perspective, including our unique motivations, secret agendas, relationships and opinions. We're interested in your papers and presentations that help provide understanding of or at least exposure to the complexity of humans in corporations, family units, non-profits, government agencies and social structures.

Human systems inquiry builds upon the work in social systems design by Churchman, Ackoff and Checkland as well as the critical systems thinking work done by Jackson, Ulrich, Flood and Midgley.

Churchman has been the most articulate and most effective advocate of ethical systems theory and morality in human systems inquiry. Churchman says that systems inquiry must be value-oriented and it must be guided by the social imperative, which dictates that the technological efficiency must be subordinated to social efficiency. He speaks for a science of values and the development of methods by which to verify ethical judgments.

We are looking for papers that explore human systems inquiry in its beautiful complexity. Please submit papers that focus on the human element of complex systems, in particular the emotions, motivations and intuition of the players involved.

Presentation Format:        Presentations should be 20 minutes with an additional 10 minutes reserved for questions at the end

SIG: Hierarchy Theory

SIG Chair: Billy Dawson


Hierarchy Theory views systems as a set of ordered levels with a governing-governed relationship between the levels wherein the hierarchical levels are the sub-units of the whole system of interest. Further, the levels within the hierarchy are defined by the scale of observation chosen by the researcher (observer) and exploring this process of choice of scale is also of interest within the SIG. 

Hierarchy theory has many applications across variety of disciplines including, but not limited to chemistry, biology, mathematics, botany, and systems. According Ahl and Allen, hierarchy theory helps scientists and scholars distinguish between mere semantic differences and situations where data could indeed indicate which is superior between two truly competitive theories. 

Abstracts are invited from all fields of research whether natural systems or social systems. Focus on both theory or practice are welcome. Administrative hierarchies, nested and non-nested hierarchies, the dimensionality of hierarchies, organizational and observational hierarchies, and hierarchies of control, are among suitable topics to explore and address. There is also great flexibility with new and original research and theory. Papers which link to other areas of the ISSS are not only welcomed but encouraged.

Presentation Format:        Participants are encouraged to prepare a discussion covering the highlights of each paper in the range of 15-20 minutes. There will be a 10 minute allotment of time for questions and clarifications.

PowerPoint is welcome, however, the reading of slides and entire slide decks is discouraged. The use of handouts and supplementary information is encouraged.

SIG: Living Systems Analysis

SIG Chair: James Simms


The principle purpose of the living systems (LSA) group is to investigate all things that live from the very small, such as cell, to and including societies to discover universal phenomena applicable to living things and to develop a living science equivalent to “hard sciences” like physics and chemistry.

Papers are requested that address the development and application of a living systems science. The living systems special integration group (SIG) has been in existence for many years and has significant results.  However, many problems remain that need to be addressed.  Although both information and knowledge are essential for things to live, they do not have universal accepted precise and uniform definitions and usage.  They also cannot be measured.

Precise definitions and measures for both knowledge and information have been developed.   However, like the existing sciences such as physics, chemistry and electrical fundamental phenomena their measures must be accepted by the users of these sciences.  Papers that apply the concepts and measures of universal; phenomena of knowledge and information will be greatly appreciated.

Presentation Format:        The format of this SIG will be 20 minute presentations (of any presentation format) followed by a ten minute Q &A

SIG: Organizational Transformation and Social Change

SIG Chair: Louis Klein


Systemic Change Is the challenge of the 21st century. What are however the successful practices facilitating systemic change in social systems, organisations and societies? The OTSC SIG is dedicated to explore the conditions of the possibilities for effective and sustainable change. 

The OTSC SIG is inviting practice-oriented papers that relate systems and cybernetics to changing organisational and societal issues in reference to a bigger systemic picture. Hence the guiding question is on the improvement and innovation of change.

Methodologically references to praxeology, action research and action learning are as much welcome as modelling and scenarios, especially taking into account the digital transformation and its implications for practices and social trends. However, unlike the SABI SIG the focus is more on change and learning than on future blueprints.

For the 2016 conference a special emphasis is placed on how the topics of the days are translated into practices to change socio-ecological systems.

The SABI SIG is linked to the Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change (Taylor & Francis). After the discussion in the OTSC SIG session selected papers will be invited for a special issue of the journal.

Presentation Format:      The presentation format is limited to a short abstract presentation of 10 minutes followed by a 10 peer review discussion. The presenter is very much welcome to come with a specific question addressing the audience. 

SIG: Research Towards General Systems Theories

SIG Chair: David Rousseau


General Theories Systems Theories (GSTs) are needed to unify the systems sciences under common frameworks of description, analysis and explanation, and open up new routes to systems-scientific innovation. Current GSTs are still nascent theories, and this SIG provides a venue for developing and discussing ideas, strategies, frameworks, opportunities and challenges relevant to research towards developing and applying GSTs.

Progress towards sustainability in socio-ecological systems requires not only co-operation of the full spectrum of scientific disciplines but also transdisciplinary work that can unite and integrate the specialized disciplinary approaches into a synergistic effort capable of addressing the challenges at every scale and level.  General Systems Theory can provide the foundation for such transdisciplinarity, and we invite contributions that specifically discuss how GST can be used to support transdisciplinarity for socio-ecological sustainability, what hurdles remain for such use and how they might be overcome, and what cultural and scientific conditions have to be met for GST to be leveraged in this way.   

More generally, we also invite papers and presentations on the traditional challenges of research towards mature General Systems Theories, and related work, including such topics as:

Refining the concepts central to general systems research, such as “system”, “isomorphy”, “mechanism”, “open-ness”, “emergence”, etc.; Affirming or challenging the philosophical frameworks underlying contemporary general systems research; Affirming or challenging the possibility and value of a GST; Identifying isomorphies of systemic behaviors across kinds of concrete systems, and exposing the systemic mechanisms underlying or linking them; Identifying general systems principles that underlie systemic isomorphies, or strategies for identifying such principles, and related work; Discussing the limitations and potentials of GST to facilitate interdisciplinary communication, scientific discovery, and the unity of knowledge; The development of a transdisciplinarity grounded in GST.

Presentation Format:        20 min presentation + 10 Q&A

SIG: RoundTable

SIG Chair: Sue Gabriele


Everyone is invited to the ISSS RoundTable. This year, we meet morning and evening and hear from both the US and India participants. Join us every day, or whenever you like.

We spend 5 minutes listening to short readings and a participant-suggested topic. We then spend 50 minutes on individual reflections or learning reports, time distributed equally among all present (e.g. 25 people = about 2 minutes each). Our experience is “Just as we break the sound barrier when we travel faster than the speed of sound, we break the communication barrier when we hear 30 viewpoints in 60 minutes.”

Everyone is invited to the ISSS reflection RoundTable. No preparation is needed.  Topics are emergent, inspired by this year’s theme: Unity in Diversity -- Humanity in Technology.  This year, we will meet morning and evening, so that we can hear from participants at both the US and India sites. Join us every day, or whenever you like.

Our RoundTable purposes are to open a space for daily reflection on our ideals, what we want to learn and create; to increase time for each of us to talk from about what we are thinking and learning now; and to be listened to by others, enjoying and learning with each other in a new way.

Our format is: We spend 5 minutes listening to short readings. We then spend 50 minutes on individual reflections or learning reports, time distributed equally among all present (e.g. 25 people = about 2 minutes each). Our suggested topic for the first morning might be: “What situations and projects did you leave behind to come here, and what could happen here that would be valuable to you in your work and life back home?” Each day, a different topic will be suggested by a different volunteering facilitator in attendance.

Folk wisdom and compelling research indicate that participants experience surprising benefits from this activity after about four sessions. Our own experience with this format has resulted in the following theory: Just as we break the sound barrier when we travel faster than the speed of sound, we break the communication barrier when we hear 30 authentic viewpoints in 60 minutes.

Looking forward to experiencing this with you all!

Presentation Format:        No preparation is needed. Cued by 5 minutes of overview and a participant suggested topic, everyone present is offered equal turns to share their thoughts.  We use a timer to make managing equal time effortless. 

SIG: Science, Spirituality and Systems Science

SIG Chair:  Delia Pembrey MacNamara


Science' and 'Spirituality' are considered to be two opposing paradigms that can not be resolved. Yet what exactly do these paradigms mean in society and what do they mean for you?    Papers are requested that explore the relationship between science, systems science and spirituality. 

Papers are requested that explore the relationship between science, systems science and spirituality, with a focus on how you and your research:
•    utilize systems thinking/systems science to provide insights into how these areas are related and/or
•    how (if at all) the dynamics between science and spirituality impact the development or use of systems sciences/systems thinking in philosophy, methodology and practise.

On a broader level, how can these three paradigms be applied to or inform socio-ecological sustainability and the core themes of the conference.

SIG: Socio-Ecological Systems

SIG Chair(s): Stefan Blachfellner, Liss C. Werner


This SIG Socio-Ecological Systems intends to help advance a sound epistemology and methodology for socio-ecological systems design in conjunction with socio-technological systems design. At the interface of science – humanities – engineering/design we investigate the interdependencies of natural – social – technological systems to develop appropriate design competencies for future oriented life concepts and thrivable ecologies, a flourishing planet, meaningful technologies, and futurable humanity.
Realizing Sustainable Futures, Unity in Diversity and Humanity in Technology, demand from us to find the ways and means to deal with the actual complex challenges we have co-created as human societies. Biologists, economists, engineers, architects, designers and philosophers are invited to start their conversation and collaboration.

The SIG Socio-Ecological Systems addresses all those disciplines involved in an integration of knowledge through a trans-disciplinary systems approach in order to advance the specific disciplines, informed by the General Systems Approach.
The SIG follows its agenda of conducting research that takes the complexity of both ecological and social systems into account and extends the subject matter into the paradigm of design and Gestaltung as living and learning system. We are aiming at developing theories, strategies and designing systems of design in a newly framed environment, to support advances in Anticipating Futures and Sustainability Leadership.
Instead of continuing parallel running research projects, we encourage researchers from science, humanities, economics, and engineering/design disciplines as well as practitioners to collaborate in a trans-disciplinary process in order to decode and encode discipline specific modes of working, to co-create the cultural wisdom of Nature and Humanity, the Necessary Unity and co-develop Engineering Leadership in Creating Sustainable Systems for the Future.
The SIG welcomes contributions from but is not limited to: 
•    Evolutionary systems, theories of living systems and theories of social systems
•    Biological, systemic and computational design strategies
•    Bio-digital Technologies and Applied Artificial Intelligence in Socio-Ecological Systems
•    Biomimicry and Materials Technology applications in Socio-Ecological Systems
•    Architecture and Spatial Design
•    Urban design (e.g. sustainable urbanism, smart cognitive cities), and regional development
•    Biodiversity, agriculture and rural development
•    Designing and governing biosphere reserves and nature sanctuaries
•    Design of supply networks in public services (e.g. energy, water, traffic and public transport, information technologies and telecommunications, health care, and education infrastructures) and value networks in business services
•    Designing Innovation and Business Ecosystems (cross-overs welcome)
•    Designing research and development systems and governmental systems to address the challenges of future-oriented thriving ecologies.

Presentation Format:     15 min presentation + Q&A + panel discussion

Student SIG

SIG Chair: Amber D. Elkins


Students from approximately high school to post-doctoral age are cordially invited to join the fifth meeting of the Student SIG. We hope that you will consider contributing a paper and/or poster for presentation in our group discussions. However, simply participating in the group’s generative and creative dialogue is also appreciated and welcomed. The goals of the Student SIG include: to foster interest and excitement for the systems sciences among students; share and articulate ideas from many different disciplines; and to synthesize a collected “student” view of the Society’s past, present, and future.

What makes this SIG unique, is the opportunity to integrate many varied disciplines and backgrounds into a student presence within the ISSS. Distinguished members of the society will also be invited to come speak to our SIG to further present their ideas. It is essential that student participation be established in order to introduce students to the workings of the ISSS, to create a contributing student membership, and to perpetuate the work of the ISSS in the future.

There will be presentations of papers/posters, and a brief period for the day’s presenters to familiarize the group with their work. After allowing for a brief question period, we will proceed to a strategically guided discussion. An evolutionary dialogue will take place in which new insights may be constructed and further collaborations made possible.

The best preparations for these meetings will be to read the papers scheduled for presentation and to take part in outside conversations during the various workshops and plenaries.

Article and poster submissions should at least broadly involve one of the daily conference themes (whole systems thinking, anticipatory global science, social and cultural wisdom, engineering leadership, or education and individual competencies) or the overall theme. If your topic does not obviously fall under one of these headings, but you would still like to submit something, please contact the SIG Chair, Amber Elkins.

*Important* Please include a 1-2 sentence statement at the beginning of your submission to which it falls under and why.

Presentation Format:       Presentation format will depend upon numbers of submissions and will be developed by the group by email in the months preceding the meeting.

SIG: Systemic Approaches to Conflict and Crises

SIG Chair: Gerhard Chroust


Resilience and appropriate interventions to crises is a growing global need and a social responsibility regarding the seemingly growing number of disasters endangering a growing number of people and even our civilization. Lacking resilience in a crisis, without proper management, results in a disaster.

Preparedness for crises must systemically consider all potential enforcing and diminishing factors. Actual interventions must perform under uncertainty, stress and time limits.

Disasters are one-of-a-kind, but still we must look for similarities and powerful abstraction from the individual cases to allow scientific analysis and improved mitigation, aiming at an interdisciplinary ‘Strategic Crisis Science’.

Adequate anticipation, preparedness for resilience and appropriate response (interventions) to crises and continuous improvement is a growing global need and a social responsibility regarding the seemingly increase in disasters endangering a growing number of people and even our civilization.

Crises are caused by a hazard exploiting a system’s vulnerability where the system does not possess adequate capability to mitigate the situation (i.e. lacking resilience). Consequently, the system experiences a crisis, which – if not managed appropriately- results in a disaster.

Mitigation, which concerns the whole causal chain leading to a disaster must necessarily be holistic, considering numerous (often only emergent) relationships:  Preparedness must systemically consider all potential enforcing and diminishing factors in their interplay. Actual interventions (responses) in a disaster must holistically evaluate the total situation and establish priorities, but must perform under uncertainty, extreme psychological pressure on victims and rescuers, severe time limits, and usually adverse environmental and infrastructural conditions.

Disasters are one-of-a-kind, but still we must look for similarities and powerful abstraction from the individual cases to allow scientific analysis and improved mitigation by accumulating explicit experience. Essential aspects are:

•        Recognition and prediction of crisis and follow-on crises using mathematical models, simulation, Big Data analysis, statistics, etc.

•        Identification of classes of crises, disasters, hazards from natural to human triggered to terroristic causes, including emergence and resilience aspects

•        Human and cultural factors of victims, rescuers and stake holders (e.g. stress, fear) 

•        “Science during a crisis", i.e. applying systemic thinking and methods during a crisis

•        Support by Information and Communication Technologies

•        Logistics for moving people, supplies, and materials and establishing communication links.

•        Public media, social media, and politics.

•        National and international Best Practices and standards.

The main attention will be the identification of common or distinguishing properties of crises and disaster, their synergy or counteraction, aiming at an interdisciplinary ‘Strategic Crisis Science’.

Presentation Format:        20 min. presentations with a 30 min. discussion period after every 3 or 4 presentations

SIG: Systems Applications in Business and Industry

SIG Chair: Andreas Hieronymi


This exploratory group aims to highlight the approaches and criticalities through which a systemic framework may assume a key role to reshape the foundations of the XXI century business science and practice towards a more sustainable and just economy.

It is pivotal to shed the light on the systemic relationships linking the firm and its context towards new Business Management models and wider definition of corporate value, overcoming the limits of the classical economic theory based on financial capital and profit. Sustainability and Profit are not player in a zero sum game, they are synergic factors for future business development.

There is a widespread need of change, that means to take advantage of the actual period of crisis to overcome its causes and improve. Sustainable business practices can be extraordinarily effective toward the required paradigm shift. This implies a new and wider concept of value, overcoming the limits of the classical economic and business theory based on financial capital and profit that are among the causes of the actual economic, social and environmental world crisis. This involves a deeper analysis of socio-environmental priorities to complement the actual set of business and consumer research tools with social, ethical and environmental values in order to seek a new concept of business strategy development and value (co)creation.

This SIG calls for contributions addressing:

  • Models, methods and instruments to observe and describe business and industry. Innovations are as well welcomed as revisions and critical perspectives.
  • Systemic reflections of concrete examples and cases looking at sense making and problem solving beyond models, methods and instruments. The concrete examples are expected to allow a better understanding of the systemic dynamics of business and industry and to suggest ways and solutions toward a more profitable and sustainable business practice.

Presentation Format:       20 min presentation and 10 min Q&A

SIG: Systems Philosophy

SIG Chair: David Rousseau


Systems Philosophy is the philosophical component of Systemology, the transdisciplinary field concerned with the scientific study of all kinds of systems.  The central focus of Systems Philosophy is the search for a scientific worldview that could guide analysis and action in a complex systemic world, such we can attain the systemic values of justice, freedom, social welfare and environmental stewardship.  This SIG provides a venue for developing and discussing ideas, strategies, frameworks, opportunities and challenges relevant to developing and applying effective systems philosophies.

The diversity of worldviews from which we approach work towards achieving sustainability has the potential to impede co-operation but could also stimulate the critical reflection needed for the creativity and transformation that will be needed to develop a unified and effective approach to the challenges facing contemporary socio-ecological systems.  Systems Philosophy can provide a framework for exploring these issues and for seeking ways to bring consilience between different perspectives and their consequences in action.   We invite contributions that discuss how systems perspectives can support progress towards such consilience, and how Systems Philosophy informs, and is informed by, the quest for a sustainable socio-ecological future.

More generally, we invite papers and presentations on the traditional concerns of Systems Philosophy. Systems Philosophy is one of the three major strands in Systems Science, alongside Systems Theory and Systems Methodologies. The SIG on Systems Philosophy aims to stimulate and coordinate work on the philosophical underpinnings of systemic theories and methodologies, and thus contribute to the work needed to establish the systems perspective as a mainstream view, and hence for the potential of the systems perspective to be realized.

The Systems Philosophy SIG provides a forum where systemists can discuss and develop ideas concerning:

•        systems terminology: the conceptual scope of terms needed to describe and explain the nature, behavior and potentials of systems;

•        systems worldviews: the kinds of philosophies (worldviews) that result from applying systems perspectives, including views on the kinds of systems that does or could exist in a concrete way, the kinds of knowledge we can have about systems, the systemic organization of the concrete world, the origin and evolution of kinds of systems, systemic perspectives on the nature of meanings, value, and purposes;

•        applied systems philosophy: critical reflection using systemic approaches, the development of systemic transdisciplinarity, systems research addressing the ‘Big Questions’.

Presentation Format:        20 min presentation + 10 Q&A

Exploratory Groups and Forums

Exploratory Groups and forums are not officially designated Special Integration Groups by the ISSS, but may host papers or provide presentations or discussion around topics of interest to members.

Exploratory Group: Service Systems Science

Chair: Anand Kumar


Services industries have become significant over the last few decades and are the largest sector of worldwide economy. With this economic dominance of services, products have become commodities and are unable to serve as differentiators. As a result, many product firms, that are mature, are looking at services in anticipation of growth in their respective businesses.   Services being an intangible entity, it is difficult to control them as much as products.  The focus of this Exploratory Group is to understand the systemic foundations of services and service systems and address the science, technology, design and engineering issues arising in them. 

Services industries have become prominent over the last few decades and are the largest sector of worldwide economy.  With this economic dominance of services, products have become commodities and are unable to serve as differentiators. As a result, many product firms, that are mature, are looking at services in anticipation of growth in their respective businesses.   Unlike products, services as a discipline is not well established as the services discipline is emerging currently.  

Almost all services are governed by social, economic and emotional factors. The success or failure of a service depends on the experience and delight that it can generate for its customers.  Almost all services are complex, incomplete, defective, and non-standardized and there exists tremendous difference of opinions as to the facts that result in this situation.  As a result, services cannot be treated in the same way that tangible entities like products are treated and it is necessary to have a different perspective for conceptualizing, designing and delivering services.

With this as the background, papers covering the following topics are invited:
a) Industry and societal application of services.  
b) Theory and methods for addressing complexity, size, scale and evolution of services and service systems.
c) Theory and methods for technology support of services and service systems.
d) Design of services and service systems to improve quality of life and human conditions. 
e) Design of agricultural services, industrial services and services for services.  
f) Theory and methods for design and delivery of services and service systems. 

The paper can address these topics at the level of business to business, or business to customer, or combinations of these. In each case it is of particular importance to ask fundamental questions involving the epistemological, ontological and ethical aspects of services in different organizational, cultural and economic settings.

Presentation format:        25 mins presentation + 5 min Q&A

Exploratory Group: Information Systems Design and Information Technology

Chair: Anand Kumar


Information systems have reduced human boundaries and perceptions by effective utilization of information.  These systems are growing exponentially and their complexity, size and scale are increasing at an unprecedented rate.  While many problems with regard to synthesizing, implementing and deploying these systems have been solved, there are still systemic and technical problems that needs to be addressed.  The focus of this SIG is to understand the systemic foundations of information systems and address the technology, design and engineering issues arising in these systems. 

Information systems have strategic impact on global businesses in a wide variety of industrial sectors.  The growth, complexity, size and scale of these systems in these sectors has reached an unprecedented level.  In spite of significant progress in this field, there are still systemic (matters of complexity, adaptation, anticipation and evolution) and technical (matters of size, scale, quality and utility) problems that needs to be addressed in order to sustain the rate of progress in information systems design and utilization.  

With this as the background, papers covering the following topics are invited:

a)    Industry and social applications of information systems.  

b)    Theory and methods for addressing complexity, size, scale and evolution of information systems.

c)    Theory and methods for sustaining progress in information systems development and utilization.

d)    Design of Information systems for improving quality of life and human conditions. 

e)    Design of Information systems for sustaining the ecology and environmental conditions of this planet.  

f)    Design of Information systems supporting agriculture, industrial and services economy. 

The paper can address these topics at the level of an individual human being, that of a group, a community, the larger society, or combinations of these. In each case it is of particular importance to ask fundamental questions involving the epistemological, ontological and ethical aspects of human-machine interaction in different organizational and societal settings.

Presentation format:        25 mins presentation + 5 min Q&A