What is real about operational research?

Back in June, Sean Manzi gave a cracking talk about the use of realism in operational research. It was a great session, stimulated good debate, and as promised, here are the slides from his talk, and a paper they presented at conference too!

Sean’s intro for the Hive session:
As someone who is relatively new to the world of operational research I was confused by the lesser consideration of what underpins the discipline than some other disciplines. Some might say “Well it is the scientific method of course” and in a loose question avoiding way that is right, but my response would be “Which scientific method?”
In this Realist Hive session I will first briefly introduce the discipline of operational research. I will ask some difficult questions of the way operational research considers how it conducts research and why it is done that way. I will open the discussion out to everyone to ask ‘Is operational research a good example of the realist philosophy of science in action?’ We will likely need to go beyond this question to examine ‘Why should we consider philosophies of science at all? Do we need them?’ and ‘How do we decide just which philosophy should underpin our research?’
Operational research, due to its lack of strong philosophical underpinning makes a good space to examine these fundamental questions of research. My hope is that this will be a provocative discussion which enables people to reflect on their own practices and beliefs.
No prior understanding of operational research or realism is required to attend this talk! In fact I implore you to attend especially if you do not know much about these topics and even more so if you take issue with any of the questions proposed above.
This will be a lively and welcoming debate; I look forward to seeing you there.

What is real about operational research

Black boxes agency and simulation – revised

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