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  System dynamics modelling and simulation of sufficiency policies in complex supply chains


   Department of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management

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  Dr Vinicius Picanco Rodrigues, Dr Andy Wong  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Short Description

This PhD project aims to model and simulate the potential rebound effects of sufficiency policies in complex production and consumption systems using a system dynamics approach. The project will seek to develop an innovative synthesis of advanced analytical approaches and complex systems modelling techniques in partnership with external stakeholders.

Background and Objectives

The mitigating effects of CE initiatives are marginal when compared to the overwhelming impact of economic growth. Recent research has found that a 1% increase in GDP can increase natural resource extraction by 0.3%-0.6%, showing that the amount of natural resources extracted annually as a result of GDP growth is four times greater than the amount of natural resources saved by CE initiatives. Production and consumption patterns, therefore, play a major role in achieving sustainable development, rendering CE limited and unfolding the need for sufficiency policies. In this context, sufficiency refers to the idea of meeting societal basic needs while minimizing the impact on the environment. Therefore, this project aims at answering the following research questions: (1) What are the potential rebound effects of sufficiency policies in complex production and consumption systems? and (2) How to control the rebound effects to enhance sustainability performance?

The proposed approach will be a novel combination of advanced analytics techniques and System Dynamics modelling and simulation methods to collect and analyse production and consumption data across selected needs (e.g., food, housing, mobility, consumables). System Dynamics uses feedback loops and stocks and flows to understand the non-linear behaviour of complex systems and to identify potential interventions that can improve system performance. In this project, an innovative blend of quantitative and qualitative data will be extracted from standard, open-source national and international databases and collected from primary sources, such as selected specific companies and not-for-profits.

The main objectives of this project are:   

(i)           Systematically identify and review the existing sufficiency policies to inform and guide the selection of a specific set of needs (e.g., food, housing, mobility or consumables);

(ii)          Consolidate the systems structures and patterns of rebound effects of sufficiency policies on planetary boundaries and social wellbeing;

(iii)         Model and simulate the potential rebound effects on the effectiveness of sufficiency policies towards achieving natural resources protection;

(iv)        Devise interventions for different stakeholders across the selected needs (e.g., food, housing, mobility, consumables) to mitigate the potential rebound effects of sufficiency policies.


Business & Management (5) Engineering (12) Mathematics (25) Politics & Government (30)

Funding Notes

This PhD project is funded by the Strathclyde Research Excellence Awards (SRSS). It covers UK home tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend of approximately £19,435. International applicants are strongly encouraged to apply and to seek funding to cover the difference between the home and international tuition fees. Additional funding may be available to cover travel to conferences and academic events, software and equipment costs.

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