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Rethinking Soft OR interventions: Models as boundary objects

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  • Alberto Franco, L.

Abstract

In this paper I draw on research on the role of objects in problem solving collaboration to make a case for the conceptualisation of models as potential boundary objects. Such conceptualisation highlights the possibility that the models used in Soft OR interventions perform three roles with specific effects: transfer to develop a shared language, translation to develop shared meanings, and transformation to develop common interests. If these roles are carried out effectively, models enable those involved to traverse the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic boundaries encountered when tackling a problem situation of mutual concern, and help create new knowledge that has consequences for action. I illustrate these roles and associated effects via two empirical case vignettes drawn from an ongoing action research programme studying the impact of Soft OR interventions. Building on the insights generated by the case vignettes, I develop an analytical framework that articulates the dynamics of knowledge creation within Soft OR interventions. The framework can shed new light on a core aspect of Soft OR practice, especially with regards to the impact of models on the possibilities for action they can afford to those involved. I conclude with a discussion of the prescriptive value of the framework for research into the evaluation of Soft OR interventions, and its implications for the conduct of Soft OR practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Franco, L., 2013. "Rethinking Soft OR interventions: Models as boundary objects," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 231(3), pages 720-733.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:231:y:2013:i:3:p:720-733
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejor.2013.06.033
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ejores:v:268:y:2018:i:3:p:836-851 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Rodney J. Scott & Robert Y. Cavana & Donald Cameron, 2016. "Mechanisms for Understanding Mental Model Change in Group Model Building," Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(1), pages 100-118, January.
    3. David Lowe & Louise Martingale & Mike Yearworth, 2016. "Guiding interventions in a multi-organisational context: combining the Viable System Model and Hierarchical Process Modelling for use as a Problem Structuring Method," Journal of the Operational Research Society, Palgrave Macmillan;The OR Society, vol. 67(12), pages 1481-1495, December.
    4. Rodrigues, Teresa C. & Montibeller, Gilberto & Oliveira, Mónica D. & Bana e Costa, Carlos A., 2017. "Modelling multicriteria value interactions with Reasoning Maps," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 258(3), pages 1054-1071.
    5. repec:eee:ejores:v:268:y:2018:i:3:p:1006-1020 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:spr:grdene:v:24:y:2015:i:3:d:10.1007_s10726-014-9398-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:bla:srbeha:v:34:y:2017:i:6:p:759-772 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:ejores:v:265:y:2018:i:2:p:673-684 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:ejores:v:263:y:2017:i:3:p:1019-1032 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Tavella, Elena & Papadopoulos, Thanos, 2017. "Applying OR to problem situations within community organisations: A case in a Danish non-profit, member-driven food cooperative," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 258(2), pages 726-742.
    11. Rodney J. Scott & Robert Y. Cavana & Donald Cameron, 2016. "Client Perceptions of Reported Outcomes of Group Model Building in the New Zealand Public Sector," Group Decision and Negotiation, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 77-101, January.
    12. Simon Bell & Sami Mahroum & Nasser Yassin, 2017. "Towards understanding problem structuring and groups with triple task methodology ‘e’," Journal of the Operational Research Society, Palgrave Macmillan;The OR Society, vol. 68(2), pages 192-206, February.
    13. repec:eee:ejores:v:268:y:2018:i:3:p:1111-1124 is not listed on IDEAS

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