Operational Research for Healthcare Emergency Planning at a Strategic Level
Operational Research (OR) is the discipline that applies analytical methods to help make better and more informed decisions. Most of the quantitative techniques (‘Hard OR’) are mathematical, statistical or computational in nature; they are frequently used to arrive at optimal or near-optimal solutions to complex decision-making problems. ‘Hard’ OR is based on the assumption that systems are objective aspects of reality — they are generally independent of the observer; ‘Soft’ OR methods by contrast can best be characterized as assuming that a system is defined subjectively — it is a reflection of the observer’s worldview (Wienke and Mustafee, 2015). Thus, ‘Soft’ OR expects the presence of a range of decision-makers or stakeholders who may all have differing and even conflicting objectives. The application of qualitative OR techniques in this sphere is to guide and structure the various stakeholders’ discussions and build a shared understanding. Strategic level planning (which is the focus of Volume 2 of this book) is generally characterized by the presence and the active involvement of various actors in the decision-making process. Thus, ‘Soft’ OR can be used as a starting point for discussion regarding an appropriate resolution approach that all participants are prepared to implement.
KeywordsOperational Research Emergency Service Emergency Planning Strategic Level Soft System Methodology
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