Dr Bob Cavana

Adjunct Professor
School of Management


Dr Bob Cavana is an Adjunct Professor, Wellington School of Business and Government, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Previously he was Corporate Economist with the NZ Railways Corporation and he has consulted to various NZ organisations on economic, strategic, systems and business research projects. Bob is a past President of the NZ Operational Research Society, a past Vice-President for the International System Dynamics Society and a former Managing Editor of System Dynamics Review (2005-12).

He has been a New Zealand representative and Company Secretary on the Executive Board of the Australia & New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) and is currently a Fellow of ANZAM.

He has published in a wide range of high quality international journals, he is a co-author of Systems Thinking, System Dynamics: Managing Change and Complexity 2nd ed (Pearson Education, Auckland, 2007) and Applied Business Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methods (Wiley, Brisbane, 2001; Chinese edition 2004), and he is co-editor of Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet (MDPI, 2018).


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

Selected recent publications


Maani KE, Cavana RY. 2009. Introduction to Systems Thinking. Pearson Education NZ (Prentice Hall): Auckland. Available

Maani KE, Cavana RY. 2007. Systems Thinking, System Dynamics: Managing Change and Complexity. (2nd ed). Pearson Education NZ (Prentice Hall): Auckland. [www.pearsoned.co.nz/9781877371035]

Cavana RY, Delahaye BL, Sekaran U. 2001. Applied Business Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methods. Wiley: Brisbane. [http://www.johnwiley.com.au/highered/engine.jsp?page=titleinfo&all$isbn13=9780471341260] [Chinese translation, 2004, Wiley and 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).

Edited collections

Rodney J. Scott and Robert Y. Cavana (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.

Christophersen 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). 2013. Special Issue: Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet. Systems. [and MDPI Book published in 2018; https://doi.org/10.3390/books978-3-03842-790-2].

Uchino A, Cavana RY, Martinez‐Moyano I, Fukuda A, Eberlein RL, Yamaguchi K, Takahashi Y (eds) (2014). Proceedings of the 1st Asia-Pacific System Dynamics Conference, 22-24 February, Senshu University, Tokyo, Japan. Japan Chapter of System Dynamics Society. (Program Schedule and Abstract Book; and online proceedings, available) [ISSN 1347‐0949].

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 and Behavioral Science 24(2).

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

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 and New Zealand Systems Conference. Held in Wellington, New Zealand, 20-23 July. System Dynamics Society, Albany, USA.

Peer reviewed journal articles

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. doi:10.1002/sdr.1618

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 building, European Journal of Operational Research, 249(3): 908-918. Available

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; Available

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. doi: Available

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

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, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp.186–205. [Special issue on project management]. Available

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].

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.

Cavana RY. 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.

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 the 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”.