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Ethics outside, within, or beyond OR models?


  • Le Menestrel, Marc
  • Van Wassenhove, Luk N.


Since ethical concerns are calling for more attention within Operational Research, we present three approaches to combine Operational Research models with ethics. Our intention is to clarify the trade-offs faced by the OR community, in particular the tension between the scientific legitimacy of OR models (ethics outside OR models) and the integration of ethics within models (ethics within OR models). Presenting and discussing an approach that combines OR models with the process of OR (ethics beyond OR models), we suggest rigorous ways to express the relation between ethics and OR models. As our work is exploratory, we are trying to avoid a dogmatic attitude and call for further research. We argue that there are interesting avenues for research at the theoretical, methodological and applied levels and that the OR community can contribute to an innovative, constructive and responsible social dialogue about its ethics.
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Suggested Citation

  • Le Menestrel, Marc & Van Wassenhove, Luk N., 2004. "Ethics outside, within, or beyond OR models?," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 153(2), pages 477-484, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:153:y:2004:i:2:p:477-484

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amartya Sen, 1997. "Maximization and the Act of Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 745-780, July.
    2. Marc Le Menestrel & Luk Van Wassenhove, 2001. "The Domain and Interpretation of Utility Functions: An Exploration," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 51(2), pages 329-349, December.
    3. Marc Le Menestrel, 2001. "A Process Approach to the Utility for Gambling," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 249-262, May.
    4. Brans, J. Pierre, 2002. "Ethics and decision," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 340-352, January.
    5. Felix Rauschmayer, 2000. "Ethics of multicriteria analysis," International Journal of Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 3(1), pages 16-25.
    6. van den Hove, Sybille, 2000. "Participatory approaches to environmental policy-making: the European Commission Climate Policy Process as a case study," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 457-472, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Picavet, Emmanuel, 2009. "Opportunities and pitfalls for ethical analysis in operations research and the management sciences," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1121-1131, December.
    2. Ignacio Ferrero & Reyes Calderón, 2012. "The Ethical Dimension of Industrial Production: the Role of Transitive Motivation," Faculty Working Papers 11/12, School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra.
    3. White, Leroy, 2009. "Challenge of Research Ethics Committees to the nature of operations research," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1083-1088, December.
    4. E. Schumacher & David Wasieleski, 2013. "Institutionalizing Ethical Innovation in Organizations: An Integrated Causal Model of Moral Innovation Decision Processes," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 15-37, March.
    5. Altay, Nezih & Green III, Walter G., 2006. "OR/MS research in disaster operations management," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 175(1), pages 475-493, November.
    6. Le Menestrel, Marc & Van Wassenhove, Luk N., 2009. "Ethics in Operations Research and Management Sciences: A never-ending effort to combine rigor and passion," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1039-1043, December.
    7. repec:eee:ejores:v:268:y:2018:i:3:p:971-983 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Sean Valentine & David Hollingworth, 2012. "Moral Intensity, Issue Importance, and Ethical Reasoning in Operations Situations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 108(4), pages 509-523, July.
    9. Hämäläinen, Raimo P. & Luoma, Jukka & Saarinen, Esa, 2013. "On the importance of behavioral operational research: The case of understanding and communicating about dynamic systems," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 228(3), pages 623-634.
    10. Diekmann, Sven, 2013. "Moral mid-level principles in modeling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 226(1), pages 132-138.
    11. Ormerod, Richard J. & Ulrich, Werner, 2013. "Operational research and ethics: A literature review," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 228(2), pages 291-307.
    12. Brocklesby, John, 2009. "Ethics beyond the model: How social dynamics can interfere with ethical practice in operational research/management science," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1073-1082, December.
    13. Marc Le Menestrel & Luk N. Wassenhove, 2016. "Subjectively biased objective functions," EURO Journal on Decision Processes, Springer;EURO - The Association of European Operational Research Societies, vol. 4(1), pages 73-83, June.
    14. Mingers, John, 2011. "Ethics and OR: Operationalising discourse ethics," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 210(1), pages 114-124, April.
    15. Mingers, John & White, Leroy, 2010. "A review of the recent contribution of systems thinking to operational research and management science," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 207(3), pages 1147-1161, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C00 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - General
    • C60 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - General


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