Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Acquisition Research Symposium



Conference Name

Fifteenth Annual Acquisition Research Symposium, May 9-10, 2018, Monterrey, California


Acquisition programs continue to struggle with increasing complexity. High degrees of emergence, interconnectedness, and uncertainty are the norm rather than exception. The purpose of this research is to explore extension of ongoing research in complex system pathologies for acquisition programs. Significant advances have been made in development of deeper understanding of the nature of pathologies (deviations from healthy system function) and their implications for performance of complex systems. Complex system pathologies represent violations of underlying system principles. These violations negatively affect system governance functions (control, oversight, accountability) resulting in degradation of system performance. Greater understanding of complex system pathologies offers insights to enhance complex system performance. This paper reports on the current state of development of a method to identify, represent, and assess systemic pathologies in complex systems. The method examined (M-Path Method) supports enhanced capabilities for pathology discovery, support for prioritization based on impact ranking, and provision of guidance for feasible strategic response across a spectrum of pathologies. Thus, the acquisition field and practitioners will benefit from results reporting on (1) acquisition field advancement through system science-based research into impediments to system performance, (2) providing a research-based method to improve acquisition program performance, and (3) reporting on successes and lessons learned from preliminary application of the method. The paper concludes with discussion of initial applications of the method, developmental areas, and guidance for acquisition practitioners.


"Approved for Public Release; Distribution is unlimited."


Bibliographic information: From Series, Complex System Governance,

Number SYM-AM-18-104.


0000-0001-9452-9105 (Keating), 0000-0002-2213-4929 (Katina)

Original Publication Citation

Keating, C. B., Katina, P. F., Joiner, K. F., Bradley, J. M., & Jaradat, R. M. (2018, May 9-10). A method for identification, representation, and assessment of complex system pathologies in acquisition programs [Conference paper]. Fifteenth Annual Acquisition Research Symposium, Monterrey, California.