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Writing practitioner case studies to help behavioural OR researchers ground their theories: application of the mangle perspective

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  • Richard Ormerod

    () (Warwick University)

Abstract

Behavioural research into the practice of OR needs to be grounded. Case studies written by practitioners can potentially help address this need but currently most do not. The paper explores a way of describing OR projects that place the emphasis on the ‘actors’ who provide the motivating force and the consequences of their actions. The ‘mangle’ perspective focuses on the dynamic intertwining of people, technology and concepts; this can provide the basis for an insightful narrative describing the reality of the project in terms of the planned approach, the problems met and the outcomes. Two examples are given, one of a conventional model building exercise, the second of a ‘soft OR’ intervention: both describe projects conducted by practitioners for commercial purposes. It is concluded that, by using the mangle perspective, the OR case writer can winnow the wheat from the chaff in order to write a succinct informative narrative, a narrative that could be utilized by behavioural OR (BOR) researchers. It is further concluded that BOR researchers should engage with ‘practice theory’ to deepen their understanding of what actually happens in projects.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:jorsoc:v:68:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1057_s41274-016-0011-8
    DOI: 10.1057/s41274-016-0011-8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory, Amanda J. & Atkins, Jonathan P. & Midgley, Gerald & Hodgson, Anthony M., 2020. "Stakeholder identification and engagement in problem structuring interventions," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 283(1), pages 321-340.

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