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Policy boomerang in technical education: a system dynamics perspective

Lalit Upadhayay (Department of Mechanical Engineering, The NorthCap University, Gurgaon, India)
Prem Vrat (School of Management, The NorthCap University, Gurgaon, India)

Journal of Advances in Management Research

ISSN: 0972-7981

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The Indian technical education has experienced an exponential growth since 1995. However, the technical education system was not able to sustain it and the enrollments, particularly in engineering, fell down considerably. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the growth of Indian technical education from system dynamics (SD) perspective.


Technical education is a complex system in which the outcome of a decision comes with a third order delay. SD is an appropriate tool to analyze the causal structure and behavior of complex systems. This study developed an analogy from the physics of a boomerang to do the comparative assessment of “sudden overshoot and collapse” phase in the growth of Indian technical education. Further, it compared the technical education growth with the Gartner hype cycle. The growth model of Indian technical education was developed using SD software STELLA (version 10.0).


The model was simulated for five different policy scenarios. The outcome of the SD analysis shows that the “goal-seeking behaviour,” which produces stable growth without hampering quality, is the best proposition amongst all scenarios considered in the study. It identifies policies which will enable long-term stability in the Indian technical education system as well as policies which will lead to perpetual instability in the system.

Research limitations/implications

The study conducted will encourage researchers to use SD in analyzing complex systems for sustainability and in the selection of appropriate policies.


The paper uses boomerang analogy for analyzing the growth in engineering enrollments and highlights the presence of “the boomerang effect,” a term coined by the authors for sudden overshoot and collapse behavior, in the causal structure which is injurious to the education system.



Upadhayay, L. and Vrat, P. (2017), "Policy boomerang in technical education: a system dynamics perspective", Journal of Advances in Management Research, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 143-161.



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