OR63: Soft OR and Problem Structuring Methods

Problem Structuring Methods (PSM) are often known as ‘Soft’ Operational Research/‘Soft OR’; the terms are used interchangeably for the purposes of this stream.

Problem Structuring Methods (PSM) serve to address complex problematic situations. These methods help to ensure that all perspectives are taken into account before selecting appropriate systemic approaches to problem-solving and intervention.

Progress in ‘messy’ situations is achieved through the use of PSMs to engage stakeholders in articulating their views of the problem situation and how to address it, which provides the basis for understanding where and how stakeholders’ views differ. PSMs commonly involve the development of appropriate models for promoting a shared understanding between stakeholders, moving them towards agreement on initial commitments, which can provide a basis for action.

PSMs do not seek to generate a single, optimal solution, as they are generally founded on the assumption that different solutions will look more or less attractive depending on the purposes and values of the stakeholders. What PSMs offer instead is a useful language to support exploration and learning in the face of complexity and multiple perspectives.

We're now looking for OR professionals, data scientists, professors, researchers, analysts, engineers, etc., to present at this event. Submit your 300-word presentation summary on Soft OR and problem structuring methods by the now extended deadline of the 25th of June to join our expert OR63 speakers!

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Submissions deadline extended: 25 June 2021

Share your PSM/Soft OR experience

Contributions from academics, the industry or the public sector are welcome!

This PSM/’Soft’ OR stream welcomes papers that discuss the design, application and use of PSMs as part of case studies as well as discussions of the methodology and principles of PSM/’Soft’ OR practice.

Submit your 300-word summary now to speak at our Soft OR and Problem Structuring Methods stream.

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Meet the stream organisers

If you have any questions, please contact one of the stream organisers below using their details listed. 

Mark Ashforth Headshot

Mark Ashforth, 
RAF Air & Space Warfare Centre
[email protected]

Alberto Paucar-Caceres

Alberto Paucar-Caceres, 
Manchester Metropolitan University Business School
[email protected]





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