Journal of the Operational Research Society

, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 453–463

Problem structuring methods for large group interventions

Case-oriented Paper


Problem structuring methods (PSMs) aim to build shared understanding in a group of decision makers. This shared understanding is used as a basis for them to negotiate an agreed action plan that they are prepared to help implement. Engaging in a social process of negotiation with a large number of people is difficult, and so PSMs have typically focused on small groups of less than 20. This paper explores the legitimacy of deploying PSMs in large groups of people (50–1000), where the aim is to negotiate action and build commitment to its implementation. We review the difficulties of facilitating large groups with PSMs, drawing heavily on our experience of working with over 25 large groups. We offer a range of lessons learned and suggest concrete approaches to facilitating large groups to achieve the objectives of PSMs. This paper contributes to the evaluation and development of PSMs.


DN group decision support ML management learning SO soft OR/problem structuring facilitation 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aston Business School, Aston TriangleBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Attivation ConsultingLancasterUK
  3. 3.Stirling UniversityStirlingScotland
  4. 4.Kingston Business SchoolLondonUK

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