IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Soft OR comes of age--but not everywhere!

  • Mingers, John
Registered author(s):

    Over the last forty years, new methods and methodologies have been developed to deal with wicked problems or "messes". They are structured and rigorous but non-mathematical. Prime examples are: soft systems methodology (SSM), cognitive mapping/SODA and the strategic choice approach (SCA). Collectively they are known as Soft OR, Soft Systems, or Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs). Soft OR has now come of age in terms of both dealing with complex practical situations and having a presence in the academic literature. However, Soft OR is not recognized, or even seen as a legitimate part of an OR, everywhere and this is especially so in the US, where top journals such as Operations Research and Management Science do not publish Soft OR papers. The purpose of this paper is to generate an informed discussion and debate, which may lead to a greater recognition of the contribution of Soft OR, and to it being seen to be a proper part of the OR discipline worldwide. In order to achieve this, the first section outlines the nature of Soft OR and describes briefly some of the main methods. The second section demonstrates that Soft OR has been successful both in practice and within the academic literature. The third section documents the invisibility of Soft OR within important sections of the OR literature, and the final section then suggests some explanations for this, and also proposes practical actions to try and alleviate the problem. It is not suggested that Soft OR is an alternative to traditional, mathematical OR but, rather, a complement.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Omega.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 6 (December)
    Pages: 729-741

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:39:y:2011:i:6:p:729-741
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Postal:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:39:y:2011:i:6:p:729-741. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.