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Abstract

System dynamics provides a powerful support mechanism for resolving problems in highly complex and dynamic contexts. Effectively building a system dynamics model in a client-group environment is a challenging task, particularly with a heterogeneous clientele and a variety of stakeholders influencing the boundaries of the model. In such environments, understanding and formulating central concerns is as important as it is challenging. This article describes a group model building initiative designed to study the implications of various policies aimed at revitalizing the fishing industry in Gloucester, Massachusetts. While the iterative and interactive methods in this group modeling intervention helped fishermen and community members to communicate effectively with one another, define problems and improve their understanding of the critical interactions in the system, the resulting model was used to help the Gloucester Community Development Cooperation to communicate potential impacts of a prospective fish factory to a wider audience. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.