, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp 750–765 | Cite as

A functional-dynamic reflection on participatory processes in modeling projects

  • Roman Seidl


The participation of nonscientists in modeling projects/studies is increasingly employed to fulfill different functions. However, it is not well investigated if and how explicitly these functions and the dynamics of a participatory process are reflected by modeling projects in particular. In this review study, I explore participatory modeling projects from a functional-dynamic process perspective. The main differences among projects relate to the functions of participation—most often, more than one per project can be identified, along with the degree of explicit reflection (i.e., awareness and anticipation) on the dynamic process perspective. Moreover, two main approaches are revealed: participatory modeling covering diverse approaches and companion modeling. It becomes apparent that the degree of reflection on the participatory process itself is not always explicit and perfectly visible in the descriptions of the modeling projects. Thus, the use of common protocols or templates is discussed to facilitate project planning, as well as the publication of project results. A generic template may help, not in providing details of a project or model development, but in explicitly reflecting on the participatory process. It can serve to systematize the particular project’s approach to stakeholder collaboration, and thus quality management.


Modeling Stakeholders Review Functions of participation Transdisciplinarity Interdisciplinarity 



The author thanks the four reviewers for their helpful suggestions to improve the paper, the colleagues Roland Barthel, Michael Stauffacher and Christian Pohl for discussions on earlier drafts of the manuscript, and Sandro Bösch for helping with the figures.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED)ETH ZürichZurichSwitzerland

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