A critique of the practice and methodology of operational research

JONES, Graham C. (1993). A critique of the practice and methodology of operational research. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Abstract

The findings of a research project, conducted at Sheffield City Polytechnic between 1987 and 1992, are presented. The research was aimed at describing the work and methodology of operational research practitioners in the UK, and at promoting effectiveness in OR practice. In-depth interviews were conducted with a small sample of OR practitioners, most of whom are employed as internal consultants. Interview findings were juxtaposed with the results of extensive literature study. Comparisons are made between contemporary OR practice and portrayals of OR in literature, and also with other types of consultancy within the management sciences. The development of a simple but powerful framework, for underpinning description of OR practice, is described. In this thesis, operational research is portrayed as grounded in relationships with clients who are continually engaging in executive decision making. Problems are experienced as clients attempt to formulate theories about their environment, and proposals for action. OR practitioners aim to contribute insight to problem-handling processes. This is done principally by the provision of information, plus implications for action. OR practitoners also contribute information technology, and aim to enhance clients' intellectual processes by passing on problem-handling skills. Various types of technology are used as instruments in this process. OR practitioners utilise a 'structured approach' to situations. Extensive use is made of descriptive models; technology is also used for computation and to aid communication with clients. In the long term, OR work involves analysis of clients' problems, data management, development and maintenance of appropriate technology, and promotion of continuing consulting relationships. The development of professional effectiveness in operational research is considered. A module within a postgraduate OR course was developed in order to engage OR consultants and students in critical reflection upon their practice and methodology.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2018 14:33
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2018 08:52
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18566

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