Digital Library

of the European Council for Modelling and Simulation



Framing Simulations From A Policy Perspective


Peter De Smedt

Published in:


(2012).ECMS 2012 Proceedings edited by: K. G. Troitzsch, M. Moehring, U. Lotzmann. European Council for Modeling and Simulation. doi:10.7148/2012 


ISBN: 978-0-9564944-4-3


26th European Conference on Modelling and Simulation,

Shaping reality through simulation

Koblenz, Germany, May 29 – June 1 2012


Citation format:

De Smedt, P. (2012). Framing Simulations From A Policy Perspective. ECMS 2012 Proceedings edited by: K. G. Troitzsch, M. Moehring, U. Lotzmann (pp. 619-623). European Council for Modeling and Simulation. doi:10.7148/2012-0619-0623



In recent years and accelerated by the economic and financial crisis, complex global issues have moved to the forefront of policy making. These grand challenges require policy makers to address a variety of interrelated issues, which are built upon yet uncoordinated and dispersed bodies of knowledge. Due to the social dynamics of innovation, new socio-technical subsystems are emerging, however there is lack of exploitation of innovative solutions.

In this paper we argue that issues of how knowledge is represented can have a part in this lack of exploitation. For example, when drivers of change are not only multiple but also mutable, it is not sensible to extrapolate the future from data and relationships of the past. This paper investigates ways in which policy simulations can be used as a tool for forward looking approaches addressing the grand challenges. The paper develops a typology of policy simulations and by reviewing simulation practice using scenarios, the authors disclose a variety of policy simulation practice. To synthesize, we argue that policy simulation practice underpinned by a combination of well-designed modes of futures thinking will provide richer future images that go beyond the probable that is determined by the past and present. This will strengthen the application of policy simulations and enhance the use in a policy context.

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