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Awards - The Beale Medal

The OR Society's Beale Medal is awarded in memory of the late Martin Beale. It gives recognition to a sustained contribution over many years to the theory, practice, or philosophy of O.R. in the UK, or to some combination of those areas. For each year, nominations are required by the 30th April of that year. The rules and conditions are set out below.

Citation for Beale Medal 2016

Richard Ormerod

Richard Ormerod and Ruth Kaufman

Richard Ormerod is awarded the Beale medal for his outstanding contribution to understanding the practice of OR through his many publications.  Richard has been instrumental in raising the profile of research into the important topic of OR practice through his creative, productive and broad ranging work programme, leading to many publications, especially in the Journal of the OR Society.

Richard spent 25 years in industry as a bridge engineer, 1967-71; factory manager, 1972-73; operational researcher (British Coal), 1973-78; Deputy Director, Central Planning Unit, British Coal, 1978-87; senior management consultant, PA, 1987-91. He moved to academic life in 1991, joining Warwick Business School as Professor of Operational Research and Systems. Subsequently he was appointed Associate Dean of Executive Education and Professor of Management.  Richard was also a Franz Edelman Award finalist in 1995 for his work with Sainsbury’s.

The focus of Richard’s research has been the practice of operational research; how practice can be described, understood and improved. The perspective pursued is that of a practitioner. Particular topics include: the philosophy of OR; the process of OR; the intellectual basis of pragmatism; the transformation competence perspective; case studies of OR interventions; development of information systems strategies; strategic modelling; and soft OR.

Richard has published extensively since joining academia in 1991. His transition from consultant to academic has been the basis of much of his research and in particular, the importance of structuring the organizational interventions including case studies in which he has been involved. Four of his top seven cited publications have analysed these interventions, in particular two influential examples of the application of SSM to information systems development at Sainsbury. This case study was a finalist in the INFORMS Edelman competition in 1995 and presented by Richard. This focus on taking OR concepts into practice stimulated him to analyse various OR journals including JORS in order to categorise the type of research articles they published. The analysis led him to lament the relatively paucity of true applications with too much theoretical work unrelated to any real-world problem. These same important themes still concern Richard; see his 2014 JORS publication on ‘the mangle of practice’ and his review of some of the problems of problem structuring methods (EURO Journal on Decision Processes, 2013.) 

Richard’s vigour in engaging with the debate about the nature of practice and the role of systems thinking have led him to publish some 20 pieces in JORS, many of which have sparked a response (through the Viewpoint section). In this we think Richard has made a major contribution to the health of OR in the UK and in so doing identified some of the challenges which lie ahead if it is to continue to develop.

Richard Ormerod is a worthy winner of the Beale Medal.