System dynamics simulation of transport mode choice transitions under structural and parametric uncertainty

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Complex social processes introduce difficulties to validating causal parameters and identifying the correct system structure in modelling. Policy impact assessment for sustainability transitions should therefore not expend too many resources modelling any single set of assumptions about the world. Furthermore, keeping models relatively simple allows more effective communication and stakeholder collaboration. This paper presents an exploratory system dynamics model of urban mode choice. We demonstrate that, despite structural and parametric uncertainty, it is possible to rank alternative policy approaches and identify high-leverage uncertainties as targets of policy action or further analysis. We also show how different narrative theories of change can have drastically different or unintuitive outcomes for the same intervention. Simulation can benefit both impact assessment and the further scrutiny and refinement of change narratives. We argue that the following methodological choices and their synergies made our modelling approach effective: exploratory modelling, focus on endogeneity, coarse resolution and avoidance of abstract variables.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Transport Research Review
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Behaviour change
  • Complexity
  • Decarbonisation
  • Exploratory modelling
  • Finland
  • Impact assessment
  • Sustainability transitions
  • System dynamics
  • Toy models


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