A review of system dynamics models applied in social and humanitarian researches

Fahimeh Allahi, Sander De Leeuw, Ehsan Sabet, Ramez Kian, Lorenzo Damiani, Pietro Giribone, Roberto Revetria, Roberto Cianci

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Over the past decades, the number of disasters has been on the rise, including earthquakes, war, flood and other incidents that cause destruction of society, such as education and health services. Forecasts show that over the next 50 years, natural and manmade disasters are expected to increase five-folds both in the number and impact. Therefore, there is a need for effective and efficient disaster support actions during emergencies. This compels humanitarian organizations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their approaches and facilitate decision making in resolving such complicated problems characterized by numerous parameters. Besides, humanitarian organizations face situations with multiple critical events, inadequate funding, limited time to plan and react, and operating in increasingly challenging circumstances. Useful approaches for tackling problems in such dynamic conditions require methods and tools that take into account uncertainty and enable managers to evaluate the dynamic complexity of such systems, to facilitate decision making. Among the large amount of decision-aid tools for humanitarian organizations, System Dynamic (SD) is a method used for the evaluation of complex system behavior and for presenting the effect of decisions over time in an easy-to-use model. This method has been applied in humanitarian problems, and this paper aims to present a review of the most relevant humanitarian publications associated with system dynamics. This literature review is a structured review of the papers published since 2003 onwards. The finding of this research can be used to facilitate further research in developing the system dynamic methodology for humanitarian organizations and to present the essential requirement of SD tools for modeling complex environments.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the World Congress on Engineering 2018
Subtitle of host publicationWCE 2018, July 4-6, 2018, London, U.K.
EditorsS. I. Ao, Len Gelman, David WL Hukins, Andrew Hunter, A. M. Korsunsky
PublisherNewswood Limited
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9789881404893
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Event2018 World Congress on Engineering, WCE 2018 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jul 20186 Jul 2018

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Engineering and Computer Science


Conference2018 World Congress on Engineering, WCE 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Complex systems
  • Decision-making
  • Humanitarian
  • Literature review
  • System dynamic


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