IJSS Vol 2 No. 2

Special edition July – Dec 2015


Welcome to Volume 2 number 2 of the International Journal of Systems and Society. In keeping with our policy of membership ’involvement’ in the development and content of our journal, I am delighted to welcome Gandolfo Dominici as the guest editor for this special edition. The papers included in this edition are a small selection of [and revised] papers delivered at the Business Systems Lab [BS Lab] conference in Rome in 2014. In this edition we have a variety of topics including one paper in which the use of Systems Dynamics in marketing is discussed, another dealing with the thorny problem of knowledge sharing – of particular relevance in companies where experienced staff leave on early retirement packages, modelling sustainability in social-economic systems and organisational sustainability. We have a book review, Viable Systems Approach (VSA) – Governing Business Dynamics and the last word to complete the edition.

It is worth drawing your attention to the BS Lab conferences, which are held annually in Italy and attract a large delegation of Systems theorists and practitioners from across Europe and beyond. The conferences provide another opportunity for the Systems community to meet and enjoy listening and learning about the experiences of colleagues applying a systems ideas to a variety complex problems.  Gandolfo, who is the president, has produced some pleasing venues and attracted a wide variety of Systems based papers. The friendly nature of the conferences encourages delegates to mix and exchange ideas in an informal setting as well as the formality of the presentations themselves. The conferences are well supported by significant systems thinkers who provide support for the various conference committees.


Readers of this journal will remember that the Systems Practice for Managing Complexity and the UK Systems Society have joined forces to represent Systems as a part of the city of Bristol’s role as the European Green Capital for 2015. This joint conference provides an opportunity for colleagues to show how Systems can contribute in a variety of fields to the important ‘goal’ of sustainable cities. Indeed one could argue if there is any project on sustainably that could be undertaken sensibly without an input from the Systems community. If there was ever a need for holistic thinking, sustainability provides us with a prime example. It seems to me if ever the Systems community needed to make its ideas and thinking more widely appreciated there is no better time than now. Nominated conference topics include, but are not confined to, papers and posters related to:

  • Scenarios, futures thinking and operational resilience
  • Vision development, goal-setting and strategic planning ·
  • Monitoring and evaluation against goals – constructive processes
  • Mapping, modelling and decision support in goal setting
  • Implementation of information technologies to support goal seeking
  • Knowledge, big data and data analytic approaches
  • Ethics, inclusion and social justice – the boundaries of systems
  • Goals and strategies for convergence – equity within planetary limits
  • Sustainability – recycling, reuse and waste management
  • Communication and social media

This conference offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show what is possible when everybody comes together to inspire, create and achieve a shared vision. It is your opportunity to showcase your work, debate and learn from others.

I hope you enjoy this edition

Frank Stowell

Guest Editor Gandolfo Dominici, PhD.

Managing Complex Business Management Systems.

Scientific Director, Business Systems Laboratory (Italy)

Associate Professor and Chair of Marketing, University of Palermo (Italy).

email: gandolfo.dominici@libero.it.

Editorial note to the special section for the 2nd B.S.Lab Symposium – Rome 2014

Introducing the B.S.Lab 2nd International Symposium

The Second Business Systems Laboratory International Symposium (http://www.bslab-symposium.net/) on “Systems Thinking for a Sustainable Economy Advancements in Economic and Managerial Theory and Practice” was held in Rome (Italy) on January 23–24, 2014. More than 200 participants from 52 countries attended this conference and 109 presented their research in 11 sessions covering a wide range of topics in Business science: Advancements In Systems Thinking. The Path Towards Sustainable Social Systems (chair: Maurice Yolles); The Viable Firm. Consonance, Value And Sustainability (chair: Frank Stowell); Evaluating Sustainable Development (chair: Andrè Martinuzzi); Sustainable Marketing (chair: Diane Martin); Technology And Smart Improvements For A Better Living (chair: Arabella Mocciaro Li Destri); Education For Sustainability (chair: Ockie Bosch); Business Models For Sustainability (chair: Arturo Capasso); Corporate Social Responsibility And Ethics (chair: Mauro Sciarelli); Economic Development In Time Of Crisis: Problems, Solutions And Sustainability  – Workshop (chair: Josè Rodolfo Hernandez Carrion); Finance in Time Of Crises – Workshop (chair: Enzo Scannella) and the Poster Session (coordinator: Giancarlo Scozzese).

2.The articles in this special edition.

For this special edition, we chose four papers (coming from research presented at the B.S.Lab Symposium 2014) considering different perspectives and tools to business management studies.

The first paper of this special edition is Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Marketing Mix Policies; A System Dynamics Approach (Hajiheydari N & Khakbaz S. B.). The article aims to shed the light, through the lenses of System Dynamics, on the long term effects of marketing mix policies on firm’s financial outcomes.

The authors develop a dynamic marketing system to investigate the effects of diverse marketing mix policies on firm’s financial indicators. They propose two dynamic marketing models. The first model is qualitative and aims to show the logic of marketing efforts based on system dynamic rules; while the second one is a quantitative model based on the five key loops of the first qualitative model. Given that the selection marketing mix is policy a complex process leading to nonlinear results, the authors suggest a dynamic simulation in order to analyze the effects of marketing policies on firm’s financial indicators. The article concludes pointing out how system dynamics can be a useful tool for measuring and anticipating firm’s marketing initiatives in order to successfully adapt marketing mix policies.

The second paper proposed is Complex and dynamical social network analysis as a tool to support a sustainable organizational design and management process (Drago & Sellitto). The article starts from the assumptions of the Viable System Approach, which depicts how the firm and its environment form a complex system, modelled as a network of networks to make a parallel to the notion of nested networks that is at the basis of the latest research in complex networks.

The authors apply the Complex Networks tools to the process of organizational design, guiding the restructuration strategies and the choice of a viable configuration for the firms.

They conclude highlighting how the application of CNT tools to the VSA domain can supply a unifying framework used to support the decision-making process for any kind of organization.

In the third article “Be Excellent and Do More with Less”: A Paradox behind Job Burnout Threatening Organizational Sustainability, S. Evenstad points out how firms tend to downsize the human dimension of sustainability by merely focusing on cost competitiveness asking employees to “be excellent and do more with less”.

The author highlights how the above mentioned request may lead to dysfunctional coping strategies. Employees may face depression, lack of motivation, absenteeism, and intention to run off. This may cause economic costs threatening the sustainability of an organization.

The study focuses on the experience of burnout among the workers of three ICT firms in Norway conducted as an interpretative phenomenological analysis. The article points out that the root cause of burnout may be pathological communication patterns in the organizational culture which creates antecedents that lead an employee to undermine organizational sustainability.

The conclusion is that “Be excellent and do more with less” policies may be effective when implemented at all the organizational levels through by employees who feel esteemed and empowered. Hence firms should exploit the full potential of discouraged employees removing all the organizational and cultural constraints to their personal development. Therefore, seeking sustainability implies to get rid of organizational routines and communication pathologies deriving from a inadequate organizational culture. When employees are engaged and involved in the goals of the organisation, they are eager to create resources rather than merely depleting resources, therefore employee engagement may be defined as the inner core of organizational sustainability.

Finally the fourth article Sustainable Development and the Sustainability of Socioeconomic Systems (Tikhomirova O.) shows, through a literature review, how in the current global scenario, it is necessary to ensure the stability and sustainable development of the socioeconomic system. The author points out that there is no clear understanding of the nature of the sustainability and development of a socioeconomic system. Systems thinking may be the right approach for the transition towards sustainable development, providing a better understanding of the laws of development. Through the analysis of the theories of sustainability and sustainable development, the articles highlight the difference among the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development. On these, assumptions the article proposes a holistic model of the development of socioeconomic systems. The author argues that the algorithm of development is based on the gradual transition from an unorganized set of small and medium enterprises to self-organized clusters and unions.

The conclusion of the author is that the crisis has a constructive essence and that development is possible through a transition from stagnation to innovation.

Gandolfo Dominici


Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Marketing Mix Policies; A System Dynamics Approach

Nastaran Hajiheydari and Seyed Behnam Khakbaz – University of Tehran, Iran

Complex and dynamical social network analysis as a tool to support a sustainable organizational design and management process

Carlo Drago And Giovanni Paolo Sellitto 

Sustainable development and sustainability of the social-economic systems. Model of corporate systemogenesis. The path towards System thinking in management

Tikhomirova Olga Saint Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics,

Be Excellent and Do More with Less”: A Paradox behind Job Burnout Threatening Organizational Sustainability

Solveig  Beyza Narli Evenstad University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France

The Viable Systems Approach (vSa) and its contribution to the analysis of sustainable business behaviours.

Francesca, Iandolo, Sergio, Barile and Mario, Calabrese,Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.

Recognising influences on attitudes to knowledge sharing in a research establishment: an interpretivist investigation.

Penny Hart, University of Portsmouth; School of Computing, University of Portsmouth:

Book Review

Gandolfo Dominici

Viable Systems Approach (VSA) – Governing Business Dynamics (G.M. Golinelli, 2010),

Last Word

Gandolfo Dominici

The Relevance Of Systemic Approaches In Business Sciences