Table 1. Comparison of participatory modeling approaches. PHES stands for "physical–ecological–social," and STELLA is the STELLA Research programming language.

Modeling approach Group model building Mediated modeling Conceptual PHES system modeling
References Vennix (1999)
Stave (2002)
Videira et al. (2003)

van den Belt (2004)
Kallis et al. (2006)
Marín et al. (2008)
Objective /modeling focus To provide a neutral conceptual framework for discussion and a platform for consensus Interactive construction of models to understand the system dynamics, with the goal of obtaining a model derived from consensus among participants Participatory generation of qualitative ecosystem models to discuss ecosystem management, based on a postnormal-constructivist approach in which consensus is not required

Social actors Regional organizations, local associations, local managers, research institutions

Members of public and private organizations, citizens Social actors’ groups previously identified and classified (DFID 2002, Bryson 2004)
Total number of participants 40 people (average workshop size) Small (5–12) or big (50–100) groups 12–15 people/modeling session, 1 session/group
Composition of the modeling team One facilitator, one modeler, three process coaches/recorders, one gatekeeper One mediated modeler One brainstorming coordinator, two or three facilitators to guide the modeling session

Modeling tools Qualitative causal diagrams and quantitative dynamic models

STELLA-based quantitative modeling STELLA-based qualitative modeling
Session’s design Large group meetings and small group modeling meetings; the modeling team develops the technical work before the sessions

It is based on three sessions: qualitative model building, quantitative model building, and simulations. One session divided into two steps: brainstorming and qualitative model building
Session duration Seven sessions with a total of nearly 50 h At least 3 days 3–4 h with a 30-min break between steps

Model sectors Sectors not defined as a priority Sectors not defined as a priority PHES system sectors (physical, ecological, social)

Advantages Large number of participants; generation of a consensus model Large number of participants: generation of a consensus model Generation of conceptual models in one session per group; consensus not required

Disadvantages Workshop duration; consensus is required The overwhelming role of the mediated modeler; consensus is required

The low number of participants in each session
Evaluation/validation Semi-structured interviews before and after the workshop Semi-structured interviews before and after the workshop Done by the actors at the end of the modeling session or by correspondence afterward

Final product Model, reports, database Unique numerical model One or more PHES system models