Call for Papers

Call for Papers: Theme -- Innovation and Optimization in Nature and Design

The 2018 ISSS Conference will explore foundational discoveries about the nature of complex systems which are now arising from research in systems disciplines such as Systems Biology, Systems Medicine, Systems Psychology, Systems Economics, Complexity Science and General Systems Research.   

Over the last few decades many academic fields have developed systems specializations in order to investigate the systemic aspects of their subject areas, and in these areas there is a search for systems concepts and principles under such notions as design principles, organizing principles, channelling functions, and optimality principles.  The 2018 Conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) will bring together these specialised strands of work, laying foundations for establishing the profound systems science that would enable us to design and optimize for elegant functionality and enduring value at any level of complexity.

We invite abstracts for presentation of papers, posters and workshops about the conference theme specifically or in connection with the themes of the ISSS’s Systems Integration Groups (SIGs) and Exploratory Groups, which are listed below.

Instructions for submitting proposal abstracts can be found here.  Deadlines for submission can be found here.  All abstracts will be subject to peer-review to assess the academic merit of the proposed presentation. Submission and registration for conference attendance does not guarantee acceptance of abstracts.  Full papers will be invited for accepted abstracts, and these will be published in the online Journal Proceedings of the ISSS.   

SIGs and Exploratory Groups (Click on the SIG name to go to that specific SIG Call for Papers):

ISSS Special Integration Groups (SIGs)

ISSS Exploratory Groups

SIG: Action ResearchChair: Roelien Goede. Email: u

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 abstracts (and full papers) to the conference that meet 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.

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 Roelien Goede at

SIG: Balancing Individualism and Collectivism - Chair: Janet McIntyre. Email:

Balancing individualism and collectivism addresses the social and environmental justice challenge to live sustainably and well by:

considering the consequences of our social, economic and environmental policy and governance decisions for this generation and the next;

testing out ways to improve representation, accountability and re-generation.

It addresses the need to take into account the ethical implications of policy and governance decisions in the short, medium and long term based on testing out the implications for self, other and the environment.

The work of West Churchman on a Design of Inquiring Systems provides an approach to balancing individual rights and responsibilities with collective rights and responsibilities by working through questions that consider the implications of policy decisions by means of ‘what if’ scenarios that take into account the perceptions, values and narratives of diverse stakeholders ( irrespective of socio-demographic and cultural characteristics). A policy decision that supports social and environmental justice is informed by the axiom that we can be free and diverse to the extent that our choices do not undermine the rights of others and the environment in this generation and the next.

Papers that explore wicked social and environmental justice issues at a local, national and international level are welcomed.

Presentation Format: 20 minute presentation followed by short questions [10 mins].

SIG: Critical Systems Thinking and PracticeChair: Victor MacGill and Jennifer Wilby. Email:

The special integration group in Critical Systems Thinking and Practice is a multidisciplinary and challenging area that represents an alternative approach to understanding human, social, and political issues, from multiple perspectives. The scope of the SIG goes beyond the boundaries of traditional management sciences. On the one hand, it involves a reflection on issues emerging from current systems thinking and practice from contemporary philosophy (e.g., post-structuralism, critical theory, postmodernism), and other social disciplines. On the other, it also includes research that although systemic in orientation is mainly grounded in those disciplines. Our aim is to take advantage of the multidisciplinary background and theoretical approaches of the participants, to generate a meaningful dialogue to inspire future research.

The special integration group in Critical Systems Thinking and Practice is a multidisciplinary and challenging area that represents an alternative approach to understanding human, social, and political issues, from multiple perspectives. The scope of this SIG goes beyond the boundaries of traditional management sciences. On the one hand, it involves a reflection on issues emerging from current systems thinking and practice from contemporary philosophy (e.g., post-structuralism, critical theory, postmodernism), and other social disciplines. On the other, it also includes research that although systemic in orientation is mainly grounded in those disciplines. Our aim is to take advantage of the multidisciplinary background and theoretical approaches of the participants, to generate a meaningful dialogue to inspire future research.

As a Critical Systems group we expect to be creative and innovative. Therefore, although the submission of a formal abstract and paper is expected, we would like to organise the sessions in accordance to the participants’ needs and expectations. Please let us know of any suggestions about the topics, discussions or any other proposals as soon as possible.

Presentation Format: 20 minute presentation followed by short questions [10 mins].

SIG: Designing Educational Systems - Chair: Ockie Bosch. Email:

The vision of the Special Integration Group for Systems Education 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.

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: Digital Product-Service Systems (IS and ICT) Chair: Anand Kumar. Email:,com

Globally, the proliferation of digital technologies (mobile, social media, cloud, big data, robotics, Internet of Things and so on) has reached astounding levels. In this SIG, the discussions will be around the foundational system concepts that will aid in creating successful systemic interventions using digital technologies. 

The world at large is witnessing a massive pace of digitization. Organizations are using digital to transform social interactions, customer relationships and communication with customers. The corner stone of digital technologies has been the ability to manipulate meaningful information in order to change the way a meaningful endeavor is undertaken. 

In the digital eco-system, it is often the case that distributed geographies, end-user age groups, customer preferences, emerging technologies, interconnectivity levels, dynamic and challenging environments, near real time response and rich customer experience dictate the success or failure of a digitization endeavor. In this scenario, it is often difficult to identify the cause and effects that leads to a successful endeavor. Without the ability to perform any form of analysis, organizations have to depend on trial and error to succeed. 

This SIG will discuss about formulating a systemic intervention that can be utilized to digitize different domains. Authors are encouraged to submit papers that would cover the foundational concepts of digital technologies in the areas of architecture, engineering, development, maintenance, deployment and integration. Any idea that would contribute to enhancing the value due to digital technologies is welcome! 

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

SIG: Health and Systems Thinking Chair: Thomas E C Wong. Email:

The World Health Organization's (WHO) definition of health in their constitution is: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” We employ the Chinese five elements systems theory to categorize health systems into physical health (Earth), mental health (Wood), emotional health (Fire), behavioural health (Metal), and spiritual health (Water). This Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Systemic Healthcare Engineering theory can be applied according to the viewpoint of any particular observer. Further study reveals that the same structure could be also applied to the levels above and below the particular observer level, as well as the interactions between the levels.

Let us discuss health and any kinds of systems thinking at any of the above areas and levels, or even extending into General Systems Theory with other SIGs. Abstract presentations are also welcome. Let us take this opportunity during this systems thinking age, to investigate how a particular health issue could be analyzed with systems thinking, and evolve together for better understanding of the issue and for feasible systemic solutions. This is a project that cannot be accomplished by one pair of hands. This is indeed a historical milestone that requires a collective mind-sharing to establish. I appeal to your support and look forward to your contributions.

Presentation format (Taichi): 15-20min presentation (Yang), 5min for feedback and questions (Yin), and 5min to integrate with other papers and the theme of the Conference (new level of Taichi).

SIG: Hierarchy Theory Chair: Billy Dawson. Email:

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: Human Systems Inquiry Chair: Daryl Kulak. Email:

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: 20 minutes with an additional 10 minutes reserved for questions at the end.

SIG: Leadership and Systemic Innovation - Chair: Alexander Laszlo. Email:

By focusing on the dynamics of emergence at the interface of human, technological and ecological systems, the LaSI 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 LaSI 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 LaSI SIG. Areas of interest in the SIG are:

  • Specific projects of health and thrivability that have the potential to synergize with other initiatives. 
  • Communities of such projects and initiatives. 
  • Systems thinkers who can model the two previous levels and foster their learning dynamics. 

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: Living Systems Science - Chair: Dennis Finlayson. Email:

The principle purpose of the living systems (LSS) 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 ChangeChair: Louis Klein. Email:

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.

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: Relational Science Chair: John Kineman. Email:

The Relational Science (RS) SIG pursues a general systems inquiry into the nature and origin of complexity, wholeness, and life following the theories of mathematical biologist, Robert Rosen and a recent synthesis called R-theory. We approach the subject from the perspective of causality of and beyond material process, similarly to Aristotle's 'higher' causes, but as context for the dynamical causes. The focus is on cyclical causality as a natural fundamental, modelled as a natural modelling relation itself and using category theory to describe information-related inverse entailments (generally not allowed in mechanisms). In the theory there is a structural entailment (well known as dynamics from classical approaches) and a functional entailment (which is the causal inverse, describing how functions emerge from state and context). A recent synthesis called “R-theory” defines this cyclical relation between all four causes as "holon", which thus becomes the new fundamental unit of analysis, as opposed to the classical approach of defining material states and structures as the fundamental. The result is an extremely powerful and applicable description of nature from a holistic perspective, explaining sustainability and the existence of life and consciousness, as well as the natural reduction of generally interactive systems to mechanisms. In further developing these ideas, alternative approaches, applications, and tests are rigorously considered.

We advance this work through research, collaboration and Fellowships, reporting annually to ISSS. For example, In 2016 Dr. Roberto Poli (UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems) organized a two-month Fellowship in South Africa on relational theory. The 2016 ISSS conference and SRBS yearbook were organized according to these ideas of a "whole" system. In 2018 Leonie Solomons convened a special working group in Sri Lanka to consider the nature and origin of structure. Dr. Mary Edson led IFSR Team 6,  which completed a book in 2016 using relational theory to develop a framework for Systems Research. We invite papers referencing (following or opposing) the Rosen relational theory frameworks, applications and tests. Examples of included topics are listed below.

Development: Category theory logic of complex systems, holons, inverse 'functional' entailment, cyclical causality, etc.; Critique and comparison with other theories; Role in General Systems Theory and systems philosophy.

Application and Testing: Sustainability science & Ecological niche modeling; Information science and socio-ecological informatics; Evolution theory and origins of life; Cosmology and physics: Vedic meta-science and pre-historical civilization; 2nd Order Cybernetics (entailment of consciousness); Psychology and spiritual inquiry.

Education: Basic principles for K-12, especially under the heading of "system literacy" and "ecological literacy"; Undergraduate and Graduate curricula; Public outreach and application to daily life.

Annual meeting format may vary from year to year, but generally supports 20 minute presentations, open discussion, and specialized workshops.

SIG: Research Towards General Systems Theories Chair: David Rousseau. Email:

General 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, and this SIG provides a venue for developing and discussing ideas, strategies, frameworks, opportunities and challenges relevant to research towards developing and applying GSTs.

We invite papers and presentations on research towards more 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;
  • 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; and
  • The development of a transdisciplinarity grounded in GST.

Presentation Format: 20 min presentation + 10 Q&A


SIG: RoundTable Chair: Sue Gabriele. Email:

Everyone is invited to the ISSS reflection RoundTable. No preparation is needed.  Topics are emergent, inspired by the conference theme. 

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.

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.

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.

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 Chair:  Delia Pembrey MacNamara. Email:

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 and Design - Chair: Stefan Blachfellner. Email:

This SIG Socio-Ecological Systems & Design 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.

The SIG addresses all those disciplines involved in an integration of knowledge through trans-disciplinarity 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.
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 Chair: Amber D. Elkins. Email:

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.

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.

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 Ethics Chair: John Vodonick. Email:

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. 

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

SIG: Systems Applications in Business and Industry - Chair: Andreas Hieronymi. Email:

The business world is facing increasing complexity and uncertainty. Systemic concepts and solutions provide guidance for teams, groups and organizations to better deal with highly interdependent natural, technological, social and political systems. The key audience are researchers, managers, consultants and others interested in fields such as: Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Problem Solving, Risk Management and Marketing. Presentations may link to key concepts and principles from Systems Theory, Cybernetics and Complexity Research, such as: Systems, Networks, Feedback, Self-organization, Adaptation, Innovation, Purpose, Communication, Cooperation and Coevolution. Typical methods and frameworks are Problem Structuring, Soft Systems Methodology, Causal Loop Diagrams, System Dynamics, Network Analysis, Viable System Model, Design Thinking, Agility and Reflective Practice. Papers can be guided by the following overarching questions:

  • How can systems thinking support sense-making in complex and uncertain situations, reduce unintended consequences and support resilience, innovation and flourishing?
  • What are systemic solutions for corporate social responsibility and sustainable development?
  • How can the field of systems and complexity science help to improve theoretical foundations of organization theory, management research and economics?
  • What are systemic approaches for transforming management education and create leaders ready to address the challenges and needs of tomorrow?

The SABI SIG welcomes papers and presentations that are empirical, case-based, theoretical/conceptual or exploratory. Papers are accepted for presentation based on the submitted abstracts. Presenters can discuss their initial ideas in the SABI SIG sessions, receive feedback from the audience and develop their papers further for publication in the ISSS journal or other journals. Presentation Format: 20 min presentation and 10 min Q&A

SIG: Systems Biology and Evolution   - Chair: Len Troncale. Email:

Contact Chair for additional information.

SIG: Systems and Mental Health Chair: Pamela Buckle. Email:

This Special Integration Group examines how systems theory and systems practices can inform our understanding of the human psyche, and psychological phenomena in social settings. We seek contributions from practitioners and scholars addressing human behaviour and mental processes related to topics including (though not limited to) perception, affect, intelligence, motivation, and personality. Our interests span clinical and non-clinical approaches to psychology, as we seek to utilize systems theory to explore and broaden notions of psychological health and dysfunction. Both empirical studies and conceptual papers about how systems thought can inform our understanding of conscious and subconscious experience are appropriate contributions.

Work informed by any psychological and psychoanalytical school of thought are welcomed contributions to the dialogue we seek to create in this SIG.

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

SIG: Systems Modelling and Systems Engineering Chair: Javier Calvo-Amodio. Email:

Complex engineered systems arise from the collective and purposeful work of people. Yet, their realization and management oftentimes results in non-desired and/or unexpected emerging characteristics and/or behaviors.

In this SIG we seek:

  • to better understand the systems engineering word-views that dominate systems engineering practice in the field,
  • how these world-views enhance and/or restrict systems engineering practice, and 
  • what is a potential morphology to bring together the positivist systems engineering perspective and the holistic perspective from systems science.

Systems engineering practice can be broken down into three distinct realms: 1) engineering of systems, 2) process and control of systems, and 3) program management. The science and practice of these three realms has been studied extensively. However, their holistic integration, especially at their intersections, where human activity systems are key to their performance, is still to be explored in more detail. With that in mind, we can establish that complex engineered systems arise from the collective and purposeful work of people by following the three systems engineering practice realms. Yet, their realization and management oftentimes results in non-desired and/or unexpected emerging characteristics and/or behaviors.

Within that framework, this SIG calls for contributions (but not limited to):

  • to explore the systems engineering word-views that dominate systems engineering
  • practice, especially in the three realms intersections, to explore how these world-views enhance and/or restrict systems engineering practice, and 
  • explore what is a potential morphology to bring together the positivist systems engineering perspective and the holistic perspective from systems science.

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

SIG: Systems Pathology Chair: Len Troncale. Email:

Contact Chair for additional information.

SIG: Systems PhilosophyChair: David Rousseau. Email:

Systems Philosophy is the philosophical component of Systemology, the transdisciplinary field concerned with the scientific interest in all kinds of systems.  Systems Philosophy is one of the four major strands in Systemology, alongside Systems Science, Systems Engineering and Systems Practice.  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.

We invite papers and presentations on any of the traditional concerns of Systems Philosophy.  The SIG on Systems Philosophy aims to stimulate and coordinate work on the philosophical underpinnings of systems worldviews, 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 systemologists 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; and
  • 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.

Business Systems Laboratory - Chair: John Vodonick. Email:

The Business Systems Laboratory exploratory group coordinated by Gandolfo Dominici and John Vodonick is created to foster the exchange of systemic cutting edge business practices. These are intended as application of theories, methodologies and approaches that may be useful for the advancement of knowledge and sustainable wellbeing.

The exploratory group this year will focus on two main topics:

Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development. Analyzing the criticalities through which a systemic framework may assume a key role to reshape the foundations of business practice towards a more responsible sustainable and just society and economy. In particular, the topic will call for contributions about: Sustainable and responsible models, methods and instruments to observe and describe economy, business and industry as well as real examples and cases looking at sustainable sense making and problem solving.

Knowledge Management and Information Technology for Business Systems. In emerging digital society, knowledge is becoming a key factor in ensuring business systems’ performances and viability. Further developments of business strategies are required to define innovative pathways to ensure effective knowledge sharing and building among business systems. In such scenario, the topic aims to foster the exchange of the cutting edge research and practice on managing knowledge and information technology in business.

Presentation Format: 20 min presentation + 10 Q&A.