Abstract Engineering is the 'discipline of the particular' par excellence. Engineers develop heuristic knowledge to build action-oriented solutions for specific situations. This type of knowledge is concrete, contingent, goal-oriented,particular, temporal, contextual, uncertain, value-laden, and task-specific, and as such it challenges the traditional ideals of scientific knowledge, which is typically assumed to be abstract, unconditional, disinterested, universal, timeless, utopian, certain, value-neutral, and theory-bound. A large part of social-systems engineering produces knowledge through models, with no a priori theories about human action, e.g., there is no homo oeconomicus. For instance, system-dynamics models capture decision rules that define processes driven by actors in concrete situations.
Such an epistemology shows a valuable lack of concern for empirically-sourced (induced) knowledge. Non-inductive engineering knowledge is generated neither from 'generalizable' data nor from 'general laws' for social systems, but rather from the ability to design in operational terms. This knowledge grows through trial-and error. This chapter demarcates these epistemological aspects to show how and why a model-based science denotes an engineering attitude that improves action and change in specific settings. This stance is a consistent way of facing the contingency of systems that are formed by free, innovative actors and, furthermore, of developing a science of management.