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Guidelines on Composing Jay Wright Forrester Award Nominations

As the field continues to grow and mature, the number of eligible works increases steadily. The Society encourages nominations from this growing pool by you, the active and committed system dynamics community. We rely on high quality, thoughtful nominations to frame our thinking. So we urge you to make an effort to make a nomination. Once received, the Awards Committee reviews the nominations. If needed, nominators will be contacted by a committee member for more details. The committee creates a short list and then selects an overall winner.

The nomination task requires writing and submitting a short paragraph that clearly conveys the importance and significance of the nominated work. But what does the Awards Committee expect? It’s not enough simply to name an author and a particular work. Nominations should cite papers, articles, books, research or consulting reports, theses or other written material. Please include this information in the field “Please tell us why you are nominating this work” on the web submission form.

~ Books are demanding to read but are perhaps the most straightforward for nominators to propose because their contribution is self-contained. Usually a book fully explains an important set of ideas, or fully communicates a coherent research theme, without the need for nominators to cite a variety of related work by the same or other authors. The nominators’ task (clear but non-trivial) is to convincingly describe the book’s substantive contribution to the field. A good example is the 2002 award winning work, Business Dynamics, the definitive contemporary textbook in the field by John Sterman (2000). Another is Group Model Building by Jac Vennix (1996), which won the award in 1999.

~ Papers and articles sometimes present a more difficult nomination challenge than books because a selected paper is often a sample from a portfolio of the author’s work. The nominator’s task is to select a representative paper from the portfolio, to describe its individual merits and to meaningfully assess the contribution of the chosen paper to an identifiable theme, as well as the contribution of this broader theme to the field. A good example is Andy Ford’s paper
“Estimating the Impact of Efficiency Standards of the Northwest Electric System” published in Operations Research. The paper won the Forrester Award in 1996 and contributed to a body of research on performance dynamics in the utility industries by Andy and by others. Another example is Erling Moxnes’ paper “Not Only the Tragedy of the Commons: Misperceptions of Bioeconomics” published in Management Science that won the award in 2000 and contributed to research on both environmental dynamics and misperceptions of feedback.

~ Sometimes an individual paper comes along that has an impact in its own right, though it is not part of a larger body of work by the author on the same subject. The nominator’s task is then to specify what the contribution is and why it has had significant impact. One example is Jack Homer’s “A System Dynamics Model of National Cocaine Prevalence” in the System Dynamics Review that won the award in 1997. A more recent example is the paper by Brad Morrison and colleagues, “The Dynamics of Action-Oriented Problem Solving” in the Academy of Management Review that won the award in 2012.

~ Modeling or gaming software, as described in a user’s guide or a book, has also won the award on a few occasions. An example is the 1989 award to Barry Richmond for the Academic User’s Guide to STELLA. It may seem unusual for an academic society to recognize software in this particular way, but STELLA was highly innovative software at the time. Moreover, and an important aspect stressed in the nomination, STELLA embodied a broader theme in Barry’s lifelong work: communicating the core concepts of system dynamics with clarity. He wanted system dynamics to be accessible and useful to everyone, not just a technical elite.

Who do you think should win the Forrester Award? We urge you to nominate your personal selection for next year. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Do it yourself, and do it now.

We hope to hear from you! Best Regards,

The Jay Wright Forrester Award Committee

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Some of the above commentary was adapted, with permission from the publisher, from award citation speeches:
• John Morecroft, London Business School, 2003 Chair, System Dynamics Society’s Academic Awards Committee,
System Dynamics Review Vol. 19, No. 4, (Winter 2003): 297–301
• David Andersen, University at Albany, 2004 Member. System Dynamic Society’s Academic Awards Committee,
System Dynamics Review Vol. 20, No. 4, (Winter 2004): 337–340
Both full articles are published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com).