Proposed Survey of OR Practice around the World
Objectives and Purpose
To carry out a survey of OR practice in countries belonging to IFORS, updating a survey previously carried out in 1996. The survey will be designed to enable a better understanding of the usage of quantitative tools, techniques and approaches and their impact on decision-making in organisations, as well as the background of the OR analysts involved. It is expected that the results will enable IFORS to improve their promotion of OR in member countries.
(See Annex 1 for the formal request from IFORS)
John Ranyard, recently retired from the Management Science Dept at Lancaster University would be the project leader. Prof Robert Fildes (Lancaster Management Science), who specialises in forecasting and marketing analysis, would provide support. Alastair Robertson (Lancaster Management Science), research associate specialising in marketing research, who has much experience in technology surveys using online questionnaires, would also contribute. Other members of the Department have experience of OR in developing countries and will be able to offer advice. (Note that John and Robert carried out a comprehensive study of OR practitioner groups in the UK for the OR Society in the mid-1990s, which was widely published. See Annex 1 for further details and citations. In addition a comprehensive final report was delivered to the OR Society, which sponsored the survey.)
All IFORS member countries will be included. The main point of contact will be the IFORS Representatives in each country. The USA and UK are known to have national groupings of senior practitioners, (Informs Roundtable, ORS Heads of OR Forum), which could also be involved. The stage 2 questionnaire will be targeted at non-academic organisations only. All communications will be in English.
Stage 1: Email survey of IFORS Representatives
Aims. To brief Representatives on the aims of the detailed survey; to gain their support; to gain an understanding of the potential/likely response to the 2nd stage, to obtain general information about OR practice in each country.
Tasks. IFORS to brief Representatives and National Societies about the aims and objectives of the survey
- to design a short questionnaire and circulate it to Representatives by email; to follow up by telephone for cases of no or insufficient response; to collate the responses and write an interim report.
Timescale. September to December 2009
Comments. It is appreciated that the practice of OR varies widely across IFORS countries and it may be necessary to classify countries as having well-developed OR practice and less-developed OR practice. This will have implications for the questionnaire design in stage 2.
Stage 2: Online Questionnaire to Non-Academic Organisations
Aims. To obtain comprehensive information from a minimum of 5 organisations in each member country concerning: the use of OR techniques and methodologies in organisations; background of OR analysts; details of OR (and similar) groups and their location in the organisation (and externally) and barriers to the use of OR.
Tasks. To design a detailed online questionnaire using appropriate software; to circulate the questionnaire via IFORS Representatives; to collate the responses; to write a summary report; to write a paper for ITOR; to present the results at an IFORS conference.
Comments. The questionnaire design is a critical task and may require further contact with IFORS before it is finalised. Two versions might be appropriate, as noted above, though with a common core. The use of an online questionnaire facilitates both completion by respondents and classification/analysis by ourselves.
Timescale. January/February 2010 – circulate questionnaire
March to May – send out reminders, including telephone contact
June to October – collate responses and produce a report
November 2010 to March 2011– carry out further analysis (if appropriate) and write paper for ITOR.
The success of the survey depends on stimulating a good response rate from as many IFORS member countries as possible so that a global understanding of OR practice can be gained and meaningful comparisons can be made, as well as achieving all of the survey’s objectives. Thus the IFORS Representatives will have a key role in enabling this and hopefully they can be encouraged to give strong support. It may be that some countries will be prepared to carry out more comprehensive surveys in parallel with this one. This includes countries with well-developed practice, since knowledge of practice through conferences and publications does not necessarily produce a structured understanding of the practice community. For example the UK Society is considering updating the survey that Robert Fildes and I carried out in the mid-nineties. Thus support from national societies would also be desirable.
The survey/software expert, who would implement the online questionnaire and collate results, would have to charge for his services according to Lancaster University policy. We estimate this would amount to 4 days @ £250 = £1000 (which would include the use of specialist software). Prof Fildes would not need to charge for his input but the lead researcher would appreciate an honorarium on completion of the work.
Expenses, which would comprise costs of occasional visits to Lancaster for the lead researcher, telephone calls and sundry materials, would amount to a few hundred pounds.
Total Estimated Costs - £1,500 plus optional honorarium.
R Fildes, JC Ranyard, Lancaster University, UK
Journal of the Operational Research Society (1997) 48, 336-360
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