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Problem structuring methods ‘in the dock’ : arguing the case for soft OR

Ackermann, Fran (2012) Problem structuring methods ‘in the dock’ : arguing the case for soft OR. European Journal of Operational Research, 219 (3). pp. 652-658. ISSN 0377-2217

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Abstract

Problem structuring methods (‘soft’ OR) have been around for approximately 40 years and yet these methods are still very much overlooked in the OR world. Whilst there is almost certainly a number of explanations for this, two key stumbling blocks are: (1) the subjective nature of the modelling yielding insights rather than testable results, and (2) the demand on users to both manage content (through modelling) and processes (work with rather than ‘on behalf’ of groups). However, as evidenced from practice there are also a number of significant benefits. This paper therefore aims to examine the case of Soft OR through examining the case for and against problem structuring methods.