Get access

Teaching strategic thinking using system dynamics: lessons from a strategic development course


Martin Kunc, Operational Research and Management Science Group, Warwick Business School, Coventry CV4 7AL, U.K E-mail:


The use of System Dynamics within strategy courses aims to teach students dynamic theories to explain firm performance. This paper presents an analysis of the development of students' strategic systems thinking skills after taking a course on strategic development processes. Students that achieved the best performance employed graphs representing the performance of key variables, described how the strategy worked using verbal explanations of feedback processes, and validated the results obtained to detect poor or unreasonable strategies. However, a large group of students did not follow System Dynamics practices and performed poorly in their strategies. We extract two lessons: more emphasis on the areas shown by the best students, which are along the modeling for learning practices, are needed to improve students' strategic systems thinking skills, and it is important to adopt multidimensional tools to evaluate systems thinking skills given the diversity in learning preferences. Copyright © 2012 System Dynamics Society.