Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the 2016 Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference


6 pp.

Conference Name

2016 Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference, May 21-24, 2016, Anaheim, California


Fundamentally, a system of systems is characterized by operational independence, managerial independence, evolutionary development, emergent behavior, and geographical distribution. However, value-wise, a system of systems should provide greater capability beyond that which individual systems can provide. Enabling this greater capability has to be purposely designed for and managed. In this paper, we argue that this is the primary role of the metasystem structure and its execution. A metasystem is a governing structure that provides coordination and integration of multiple systems, brought together to achieve overarching missions and functions beyond those of the constituent systems. This paper articulates the differences between a system of systems and a metasystem. Then the role of the metasystem is amplified in relation to meeting overarching goals for a system of systems. Next, the paper examines a set of nine metasystem functions necessary to realize greater capabilities of a system of systems. The paper concludes with implications and challenges for practitioners (owners, operators, designers, and performers) and researchers with respect to the metasystem role in system of systems. Emphasis is placed on design, execution, and evolution of metasystems as a primary driver for integration and coordination of systems of systems.


© 2016 Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers. All rights reserved.

Included with the kind written permission of the copyright holder.


0000-0001-9452-9105 (Keating)

Original Publication Citation

Katina, P. F., Keating, C. B., & Bradley, J. M. (2016) The role of 'metasystem' in engineering a system of systems [Conference paper]. 2016 Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference, Anaheim, California.