Dr. Ashley L. Carreras

* PSMs and Action Research: The Relationship Between Consultancy and Development of Practice

Lecture Abstract

Many leading figures in the field of Problem Structuring Methods have assessed the state of development of the soft OR field and identified challenges and opportunities for moving the field forward (e.g. Ackermann, 2012; Franco & Montibeller, 2010; Howick & Ackermann, 2011; Paucar-Caceres, 2010; Rosenhead, 2006). These reviews of the field signal a significant departure from the early efforts by the Soft OR pioneers to get their methods understood and accepted as legitimate fields of enquiry within the OR community and across the wider academic community of which they are a part.

Today, Soft OR is as a legitimate part of mainstream OR (Mingers & Rosenhead, 2004), at least on this side of the Atlantic (Mingers, 2011), and thus current debates among Soft OR scholars are more about the best ways for practitioners to learn and apply Soft OR skills (e.g. Ackermann, 2011; Carreras & Kaur, 2011).

This presentation will concern itself with particular developments within a few Soft OR approaches, collectively known as Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs), and show how these recent developments advances our understanding of how these methods are used in practice (e.g. workshops), and with what effects. This can help OR analysts to gain a better appreciation of the potential of PSMs to support their work, and how to ‘sell’ PSMs to their clients.

* Lessons From Group Causal Mapping Practice

Workshop Abstract

Causal Mapping is a flexible problem structuring method that has many uses in operational research projects. It is commonly used to help a group reach agreements about how to deal with complex issues. It is also used to help structure goals and objectives at the front-end of decision analyses projects, to manage stakeholders by surfacing their influence and interest networks, or to develop strategy by exploring sources of distinctiveness. Mapping provides a common language and format to communicate about any situation of interest. The models created via mapping are visible means that capture how we think about that situation in terms of means-ends. Provided their content and use is well managed, shared understandings and common interests about the situation are likely to develop, which can lead to change.

Group Explorer provides an effective computer supported environment in which mapping can be deployed. It provides participants with the opportunity to contribute directly to the construction of the group map, and its analyses. The workshop will provide ‘hands on’ experience with mapping through Group Explorer. This will act as the focus for reviewing coding practice, ‘on-the-hoof’ analyses, and group process issues. Managing both content and process in group causal mapping events is demanding, and the session will address some of the ways in which this can be addressed in practice. Examples from recent interventions with organizations will be used to illustrate the talk.

About the Speaker

Dr. Ashley L. Carreras is a Principal Lecturer in Economics and Decision Analysis. An active researcher who specialises in the development of theory through consultancy, his main interest is the decision-making behaviour of groups, the nature of collective action and the impact that these have on an organisation’s strategic development. His past clients include PepsiCo International, Tata Steel, Oasis Health Care,  Atkins, DSTL, Insights, Food Standards Agency, Birmingham  Eastern North Primary Care Trust (NHS) and a range of Small to Medium Enterprises.,

He has taught in the UK, USA, Spain, France, Belarus, Botswana, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In addition to teaching, Ashley is the Programme leader for Master programmes in Economics. He coordinates the Problem Structuring Methods Special Interest Group for the Operations Research Society and is a regular contributor to international conferences.

Dr. Ashley L. Carreras
Principal Lecturer in Economics and Decision Analysis
Faculty of Business and Law
5.88 Hugh Aston Building
De Montfort University
The Gateway
Leicester LE19BH
+44 (0) 116 2578224+44 (0) 116 2578224