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Operational research practice as storytelling

By J.H. Klein, N.A.D. Connell and E. Meyer

Abstract

This paper considers the role of storytelling in operational research (OR) practice. We review the debate on successful OR practice, and adopt the perspective of OR as a process in which OR analysts seek to persuade their clients by means of changing client knowledge. We introduce storytelling in the context of OR practice, and argue that there are two important types of OR story: the story of the content of an OR model and the story of the intervention that generated the model of which the content story can be seen as a 'sub-plot'. We illustrate these ideas with some examples from past practice. We discuss further the nature of OR intervention as story, and consider performative aspects of stories. We relate the use of storytelling in OR practice to the broader area of organizational narrative engineering: the systematic and deliberate use of storytelling perspectives to bring about change within organizations. We consider the evaluation of the potential benefits of storytelling within organizations. The paper offers a contribution that is both descriptive—reflecting on the ways in which OR practice might be seen as storytelling—and prescriptive—offering some practical guidance to those keen to apply storytelling as an OR approach

Topics: HD28
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:42657
Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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