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Towards a new framework for evaluating systemic problem structuring methods

Abstract

Operational researchers and social scientists often make significant claims for the value of systemic problem structuring and other participative methods. However, when they present evidence to support these claims, it is usually based on single case studies of intervention. There have been very few attempts at evaluating across methods and across interventions undertaken by different people. This is because, in any local intervention, contextual factors, the skills of the researcher and the purposes being pursued by stakeholders affect the perceived success or failure of a method. The use of standard criteria for comparing methods is therefore made problematic by the need to consider what is unique in each intervention. So, is it possible to develop a single evaluation approach that can support both locally meaningful evaluations and longer-term comparisons between methods? This paper outlines a methodological framework for the evaluation of systemic problem structuring methods that seeks to do just this.

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