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Boundary games: How teams of OR practitioners explore the boundaries of interventionAuthor-Name: Velez-Castiblanco, Jorge

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  • Brocklesby, John
  • Midgley, Gerald

Abstract

An operational research (OR) practitioner designing an intervention needs to engage in a practical process for choosing methods and implementing them. When a team of OR practitioners does this, and/or clients and stakeholders are involved, the social dynamics of designing the approach can be complex. So far, hardly any theory has been provided to support our understanding of these social dynamics. To this end, our paper offers a theory of ‘boundary games’. It is proposed that decision making on the configuration of the OR approach is shaped by communications concerning boundary judgements. These communications involve the OR practitioners in the team (and other participants, when relevant) ‘setting’, ‘following’, ‘enhancing’, ‘wandering outside’, ‘challenging’ and ‘probing’ boundaries concerning the nature of the context and the methods to be used. Empirical vignettes are provided of a project where three OR practitioners with different forms of methodological expertise collaborated on an intervention to support a Regional Council in New Zealand. In deciding how to approach a problem structuring workshop where the Regional Council employees would be participants, the OR team had to negotiate their methodological boundaries in some detail. The paper demonstrates that the theory of boundary games helps to analyse and describe the shifts in thinking that take place in this kind of team decision making. A number of implications for OR practitioners are discussed, including how this theory can contribute to reflective practice and improve awareness of what is happening during communications with OR colleagues, clients and participants.

Suggested Citation

  • Brocklesby, John & Midgley, Gerald, 2016. "Boundary games: How teams of OR practitioners explore the boundaries of interventionAuthor-Name: Velez-Castiblanco, Jorge," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 249(3), pages 968-982.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:249:y:2016:i:3:p:968-982
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejor.2015.08.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Richard Ormerod, 2017. "Writing practitioner case studies to help behavioural OR researchers ground their theories: application of the mangle perspective," Journal of the Operational Research Society, Palgrave Macmillan;The OR Society, vol. 68(5), pages 507-520, May.
    2. Daniel Ebakoleaneh Ufua, 0. "Exploring the Effectiveness of Boundary Critique in an Intervention: a Case in the Niger Delta Region, Nigeria," Systemic Practice and Action Research, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-15.
    3. Jorge Velez-Castiblanco & Diana Londono-Correa & Olandy Naranjo-Rivera, 2018. "The Structure of Problem Structuring Conversations: A Boundary Games Approach," Group Decision and Negotiation, Springer, vol. 27(5), pages 853-884, October.
    4. Franco, L. Alberto & Greiffenhagen, Christian, 2018. "Making OR practice visible: Using ethnomethodology to analyse facilitated modelling workshops," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 265(2), pages 673-684.
    5. Brocklesby, John & Beall, Elizabeth, 2018. "Processes of engagement and methodology design in Community Operational Research – Insights from the indigenous peoples sector," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 268(3), pages 996-1005.
    6. Johnson, Michael P. & Midgley, Gerald & Chichirau, George, 2018. "Emerging trends and new frontiers in community operational research," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 268(3), pages 1178-1191.
    7. 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.
    8. Midgley, Gerald & Johnson, Michael P. & Chichirau, George, 2018. "What is Community Operational Research?," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 268(3), pages 771-783.
    9. Katharina Burger & Leroy White & Mike Yearworth, 2018. "Why so Serious? Theorising Playful Model-Driven Group Decision Support with Situated Affectivity," Group Decision and Negotiation, Springer, vol. 27(5), pages 789-810, October.
    10. Daniel Ebakoleaneh Ufua, 2020. "Exploring the Effectiveness of Boundary Critique in an Intervention: a Case in the Niger Delta Region, Nigeria," Systemic Practice and Action Research, Springer, vol. 33(5), pages 485-499, October.
    11. Gregory, Amanda J. & Atkins, Jonathan P., 2018. "Community Operational Research and Citizen Science: Two icons in need of each other?," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 268(3), pages 1111-1124.

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