Studying transition dynamics via focusing on underlying feedback interactions

Modelling the Dutch waste management transition
  • Gönenç Yücel
  • Catherine Miluska Chiong Meza
Open Access


The emerging need for societal transitions raises the need for a better understanding of the dynamic nature of large scale societal systems, and therefore the development of an analytical approach for drawing dynamic conclusions based on system’s dynamic mechanisms, feedback relationships and interacting components.

The objective of this study is to explore the degree to which System Dynamics as an approach enhances the process of understanding transition dynamics in socio-technical systems. In other words, it is aimed to reveal the type of insights that can be developed about such systems and their dynamic behaviour using the approach, as well as the shortcomings of the approach in this challenging task. In order to do so, a modeling study aiming to understand the underlying mechanisms of the waste management transition in the Netherlands is conducted.

The quantitative model developed is based on the historical case of the waste management transition of the Netherlands, and it portrays issues as the dynamics of actors’ preferences, development of infrastructure and environmental consequences of dominant mode of functioning and provides an instance for demonstrating and evaluating the feedback-focused perspective discussed in this paper.

Finally, the paper discusses a set of points regarding the utilized approach, System Dynamics, observed during this study both in general and in the specific context of transitions. In short, System Dynamics stands as a promising approach mainly due to its strength in explaining the source of complex dynamics based on interacting feedback loops, but it also has certain drawbacks in the context of transitions.


Transitions System dynamics Simulation model Waste management 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gönenç Yücel
    • 1
  • Catherine Miluska Chiong Meza
    • 1
  1. 1.Delft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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