Dr Bob Cavana

Adjunct Professor
School of Management


Dr Robert Y. Cavana is currently an Adjunct Professor with the School of Management, Wellington School of Business and Government, Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. Retired as a Reader in 2020, he was a researcher, educator and practitioner in the Systems Sciences and contributed to the development of several systems thinking, decision science and research methods courses and programmes within the School of Management. He was also Head of the Management Discipline Group for a period of time. More recently he has contributed to the Sustainability Modelling course in the School of Engineering at VUW.

Prior to joining VUW in 1989, Bob was the Corporate Economist with the NZ Railways Corporation and, previously, a Senior Economist with the NZ Forest Service. He is a past President of the NZ Operational Research Society, a past President (Economics Chapter) and Vice-President of the International System Dynamics Society, and a former Managing Editor of System Dynamics Review. He was a NZ representative on the Executive Board of Australia & New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM).

Bob received the Hellenic Society for Systemic Studies Honorary Award as “Distinguished Scientist in the Scientific area of Systems Approach” in 2009. He has published in a wide range of international journals, and is a co-author of Systems Thinking, System Dynamics: Managing Change and Complexity 2nd edition (Pearson Education, Auckland, 2007; 1st ed 2000) and Applied Business Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methods (Wiley, Brisbane, 2001; Chinese edition 2004). He recently co-edited the Systems online special issue and book on Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet (MDPI, Basel, Switzerland, 2018) and Feedback Economics: Economic Modeling with System Dynamics (Springer Nature, Switzerland AG, 2021).


  • 1983, PhD, Management Science (System Dynamics), University of Bradford.
  • 1975, MCom (Econ), University of Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 1971, BCom in Economics, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Selected publications

Books, chapters & edited journals & conference proceedings

Cavana RY, Dangerfield BC, Pavlov OV, Radzicki MJ, Wheat ID. (eds) (2021). Feedback Economics: Economic Modeling with System Dynamics. Springer Nature, Switzerland AG 2021.

Cavana RY. (2021). A System Dynamics Scenario Model of the New Zealand Economy: Review and Reflections After 25 Years. In: RY Cavana et al. (eds) Feedback Economics: Economic Modeling with System Dynamics. Springer Nature, Switzerland AG 2021.

Ryder WH, Cavana RY. (2021). A System Dynamics Translation of the Phillips Machine. In: RY Cavana et al. (eds) Feedback Economics: Economic Modeling with System Dynamics. Springer Nature, Switzerland AG 2021.

Scott RJ, Cavana RY. (2020). Collaboration Governance and System Dynamics Modelling: What do Clients Want? Chapter 7, pp. 141-173. In: C. Bianchi et al. (eds) Enabling Collaborative Governance through Systems Modeling Methods. Springer Nature, Switzerland AG 2020.

Christopherson A, Bailey L, Cavana RY. (2019). Risk and decision-making conference 2019: how different aspects of risk underpin responsible and culturally-appropriate decision-making, 13–14 November 2019, Rutherford House, Wellington, New Zealand. Programme and abstracts. 60 p. (GNS Science miscellaneous series 133). doi:10.21420/8026-VR13.

Bosch O, Cavana RY (eds). (2018). Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet. Systems. (Special Issue Book).

Uchino A, Cavana RY, Martinez‐Moyano I, Fukuda A, Eberlein RL, Yamaguchi K, Takahashi Y (eds) (2014). Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific System Dynamics Conference, 22-24 February, Senshu University, Tokyo, Japan. Japan Chapter of System Dynamics Society.

Voges K, Cavana RY (eds). (2011). The Future of Work and Organisations. Proceedings of the 25th Annual Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) Conference. Wellington, NZ, 7-9 December, 2011 (Conference Program and Abstract Book; and CD-Rom).

Cavana RY, Hutchinson WE (eds) (2007). Special Issue on Australia and New Zealand Systems (ANZSYS). Systems Research & Behavioural Science, 24(2).

Maani KE, Cavana RY.  (2007). Systems Thinking, System Dynamics: Managing Change and Complexity. (2nd ed).  Pearson Education NZ (Prentice Hall): Auckland.

Ford A, Cavana RY (eds). (2004). Special Issue on Environmental and Resource Systems. System Dynamics Review 20(2).

Cavana RY, Delahaye BL, Sekaran U. (2001). Applied Business Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methods. Wiley: Brisbane.  472 pp  [Chinese translation, 2004, Wiley & Yeh Yeh Book Gallery: Taiwan]

Maani KE, Cavana RY.  (2000). Systems Thinking and Modelling: Understanding Change and Complexity. Pearson Education NZ (Prentice Hall): Auckland. (262 pp + CD-Rom).

Cavana RY, Vennix JAM, Rouwette EAJA, Stevenson-Wright M, Candlish J (eds). (1999). Systems Thinking for the Next Millennium. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society and the 5th Australian & New Zealand Systems Conference. Held in Wellington, New Zealand, 20-23 July. System Dynamics Society, Albany, USA.

Cavana RY, Harrison IG, Heffernan, FEB, Kissling CC. (1998). Freight Transport.  In: The Structure and Dynamics of New Zealand Industries, Ed. Michael Pickford and Alan Bollard, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North (Chapter 7, pp 183-219).

Haywood E, Cavana RY. (1986). A Macro-Economic Model and Scenarios to 1995. New Zealand Planning Council, Wellington (Planning Paper No.24). 75 pp

Peer reviewed articles & contributions to journals

Cavana RY (2020). Perspectives on systems thinking: an integrative system dynamics approach, s9, pp19-21. In: Amissah M, Gannon T, Monat J. (eds). What is systems thinking? Expert perspectives from the WPI Systems Thinking Colloquium of 2 October 2019. Systems, 8, 6; doi: 10.3390/systems8010006

Cavana RY, Forgie VE, van den Belt M, Cody JR, Romera AJ, Wang K, Browne CA. (2019). A “Power and Influence” political archetype: the dynamics of public support, System Dynamics Review, 35(1): 70-103.

Cavana RY, Forgie VE. (2018). Overview and Insights from ‘Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet’ Systems. 6, 5; doi:10.3390/systems6010005.

Rees D, Cavana RY, Cumming J. (2018). Using cognitive and causal modelling to develop a theoretical framework for implementing innovative practices in primary healthcare management in New Zealand. Health Systems. 7(1): 51-65. DOI 10.1057/s41306-017-0029-4.

Ahimbisibwe A, Daellenbach U, Cavana RY, (2017) "Empirical comparison of traditional plan-based and agile methodologies: Critical success factors for outsourced software development projects from vendors’ perspective", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 30(3): 400-453, doi: 10.1108/JEIM-06-2015-0056

Scott RJ, Cavana RY, Cameron D. (2016). Recent evidence on the effectiveness of group model buildingEuropean Journal of Operational Research, 249(3): 908-918.

Scott RJ, Cavana RY, Cameron D. (2016). Client perceptions of reported outcomes of group model building in the New Zealand public sector. Group Decision and Negotiation, 25(1): 77-101. doi: 10.1007/s10726-015-9433-y

Scott RJ, Cavana RY, Cameron D. (2016). Mechanisms for understanding mental model change among group model building participants. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 33(1): 100-118. doi: 10.1002/sres.2303

Ahimbisibwe A, Cavana RY, Daellenbach U. (2015). A contingency fit model of critical success factors for software development projects. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 28(1): 7-33

Scott RJ, Cavana RY, Cameron D. (2015). Interpersonal success factors for strategy implementation: a case study using group model building. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 66(6): 1023-1034; doi:10.1057/jors.2014.70

Su-Wuen O, Cavana RY, Sahli M (2014). Developing a conceptual model of airline safety in New Zealand: a systems thinking approach. Journal of Air Transport Studies, 5(2): 1-23.

Midgley, G., Cavana, R.Y., Brocklesby, J., Foote, J.L., Wood, D.R.R., Ahuriri-Driscoll, A., (2013). Towards a New Framework for Evaluating Systemic Problem Structuring Methods, European Journal of Operational Research, 229: 143-154.

Retna KS, Cavana RY. (2013). Undergraduate management students’ perceptions of feedback in a New Zealand university. Journal of Management & Organization, 19: 224-237.

Scott RJ, Cavana RY, Cameron D. (2013). Evaluating immediate and long-term impacts of qualitative group model building workshops on participants’ mental models. System Dynamics Review, 4: 216-236.

Murad RSA., Cavana RY. (2012). ‘Applying the viable system model to ICT project management’, International Journal of Applied Systemic Studies, 4(3): 186–205. [Special issue on project management].

Tobias M, Cavana RY, Bloomfield A. (2010). Application of a system dynamics model to inform investment in smoking cessation services in New Zealand. American Journal of Public Health 100(7): 1274-1281. [Special issue on tobacco control].

Retna K, Cavana, RY & Chong E. (2009). Tutors and tutorials: students' perceptions in a New Zealand university. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 31(3): 251-260.

Cavana RY, Tobias M. (2008). Integrative system dynamics: analysis of policy options for tobacco control in New Zealand. Systems Research & Behavioral Science 25(5): 675-694.

Cavana RY, Boyd D, Taylor R. (2007). A systems thinking study of retention and recruitment issues for the New Zealand Army electronic technician trade group, Systems Research & Behavioral Science 24(2): 201-216.

Cavana RY, Corbett LM, Lo YL (Glenda).  (2007). Developing zones of tolerance for managing passenger rail service quality, International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 24(1): 7-31.

Cavana RY, Clifford LV. (2006). Demonstrating the utility of system dynamics for public policy analysis in New Zealand: the case of excise tax policy on tobacco. System Dynamics Review, 22(4): 321-348.

Woog R, Cavana RY, Roberts R, Packham R. (2006). Working at the interface between systems and complexity thinking: insights from a market access design project for poor livestock producers. Systems Research & Behavioral Science 23(6): 727-741.

Cavana RY, Mares ED. (2004). Integrating critical thinking and systems thinking: From premises to causal loops. System Dynamics Review 20(3): 223–235.

Elias, A., Jackson, L., & Cavana, RY. (2004). Changing positions and interests of stakeholders in environmental conflict: A New Zealand transport infrastructure case. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 45(1): 87-104.

Cavana, R.Y. (2004). A qualitative analysis of reintroducing cabotage onto New Zealand’s coasts. Maritime Policy and Management: An International Journal of Shipping and Port Research. 31(3): 179-198.

Meimand M, Cavana RY, Laking R. (2002).  Using DEA and survival analysis for measuring performance of branches in New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation. Journal of the Operational Research Society 53(3): 303-313.

Elias AA, Cavana RY, Jackson LS. (2002).  Stakeholder analysis for R&D project management.  R & D Management 32(4): 301-310.

Cavana RY, Davies PK, Robson RM, Wilson KJ. (1999). Drivers of quality in health services: different worldviews of clinicians and policy managers revealed. System Dynamics Review 15(3): 331-340.

Cavana, R.Y., Chester, J.W. and Cooper, J.F.S., (1997). A Policy Making Framework for the New Zealand Wine Industry.  System Dynamics: An International Journal ofPolicy Modelling. IX(1): 1-19.

Cavana, R.Y., Lee, M.W, Bennett,J. and Taylor,R.J. (1996).  Possum and Gorse Control on a Farm Woodlot:  A System Dynamics Analysis.  Asia-Pacific Journal of Operational Research. 13(2): 181-207.

Cavana, R.Y., Crozier, R.A, Park, N.S. and Pillai, A.P. (1996). Attitudes towards reclassifying academic titles in New Zealand universities.  Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management . 18(1): 93-106.

Cavana, R.Y. (1995). Restructuring the New Zealand Railway System: 1982-1993. Transport Reviews: A Transnational Transdisciplinary Journal. 15(2): 119-139.

Cavana, R.Y. (1994). Coastal Shipping Policy in New Zealand: The Case for an Empirical Cost Benefit Analysis. Maritime Policy and Management: An International Journal of Shipping and Port Research. 21(2): 161-172.

Cavana, R.Y. and Glass, B.P. (1985). Economic Analysis of Selected Special-Purpose Species Regimes.  New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science. 15(2): 180-194.

Cavana, R.Y. and Coyle, R.G. (1984). A Policy Analysis Model for New Zealand's Plantation Forestry System. New Zealand Journal of Forestry. 29(1): 24-50.

Cavana, R.Y. (1981). A Note on Strategic Management Training for System Dynamics Modellers. Dynamica. 7(2): 35-6

Cavana, R.Y. and O'Dea, D.J. (1979). New Zealand's Increased Exotic Forest Planting Programme - Its Consequences for Capital Requirements and Processing. New Zealand  Journal of Forestry. 24(2): 172-188

International awards

Elected Fellow of Australia & New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM), 2012.

Hellenic Society for Systemic Studies (HSSS) Honorary Award as "Distinguished Scientist in the Scientific area of Systems Approach" awarded during its 5th National and International Conference in Xanthi, Greece, 24th June 2009.

Emerald Group Publishers Highly Commended Award Winner at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2008 (for a paper published in the International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management).

Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in New Zealand Journalists Award for the best paper in transport, logistics and supply chain management for the year ended 30 June 2005.

Best Paper in University Contributions and Systems Methodology Stream of the 9th Australia New Zealand Systems Conference: Systems in Action, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2003.

International awards received by thesis students supervised

Rodney Scott, who completed his PhD thesis at the University of Queensland, Australia, received the 2015 Australia & New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) “Award for Best Doctoral Dissertation", and in 2013 received an “Honourable Mention” (Runner up) in the internationally prestigious Dana Meadows Award of the System Dynamics Society. His PhD thesis title was "Group Model Building and Mental Model Change".

Minoo Meimand, who completed a Master of Public Policy thesis at VUW, received the 1st prize in the student thesis section of the International DEA Symposium on Measurement and Improvement of Productivity in the 21st Century, in Brisbane, Australia in July 2000. Her thesis title was “A Comprehensive Objective Performance Evaluation of the Accident Compensation Corporation of New Zealand’s Main Branches”.