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The University of Southampton
CORMSIS Centre for Operational Research, Management Sciences and Information Systems

CORMSIS Seminar - Beyond scripts: Making soft elicitation more 'visible', Professor L Aberto Franco (Loughborough University) Event

14:00 - 16:00
2 May 2019
Building 54, Room 8033, School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this event, please email Konstantinos Katsikopoulos at .

Event details

Soft elicitation as an element of model building has received attention by scholars in the Operational Research community since the 1960s, and a wide array of soft elicitation methods has been developed ever since. Operational researchers who engage in soft elicitation typically rely on ‘scripts’, namely, a sequence of designed activities that generate products such as a problem definition, a draft model structure, a value model or a subjective probability distribution. The use of scripts is by no means trivial, as they demand considerable skill in managing content and process simultaneously. Hence, scholars argue for the need to share scripts among the community to both, help disseminate knowledge of tried and tested scripts and also alleviate a long-standing concern regarding the transferability of soft elicitation methods.

Despite these contributions, we still know very little about the complexities and situated specifics of soft elicitation practice as it happens on the ground. This is mostly due to the methodological challenges involved in treating real-time soft elicitation practice as an analytical problem, which requires making this practice ‘visible’ by bringing to the fore its material and interactional features for close examination. In this talk, I will introduce ethnomethodology as one way to address this challenge. Using empirical vignettes drawn from a range of soft elicitation workshops, I will illustrate how an ethnomethodologically-informed perspective can offer a more nuanced approach to the understanding of soft elicitation in situ, and even challenge well-established scripts. I will end the talk by discussing some implications for soft facilitation training.

Speaker information

Professor Alberto Franco, Loughborough University, is Professor of Management Sciences and Associate Dear (Teaching) in the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University. He moved to the UK in 1996 to study Operational Research (OR),and gained MSc and PhD degrees from Lancaster University and the London School of Economics (LSE), respectively. Since then he has held various positions at, among others, LSE, Strathclyde, Warwick, IE Business School (Spain), Pacifico Business School (Peru) and Radboud University (The Netherlands). Alberto serves as Associate Editor of the Group Decision and Negotiation journal, and as Editor of the EURO Journal of Decision Processes. He also sits on the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Operational Research. He has extensive consulting experience in the heath, transport, construction, government and defence sectors, where he has led projects to support strategic management, value-focused thinking, risk analysis, and resource allocation. Organisations he has worked with include: Whitbread, Bombardier, Network Rail, Ministry of Defence, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the World Health Organisation. His research interests lie in making the work of decision scientists more ‘visible’, with a view to discovering novel ways to improve decision science practice and education. Alberto’s current research focuses on examining how behaviour affects, or is affected by, the use of structured decision-making processes and tools within teams.

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