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Surveying applications of Strategic Options Development and Analysis (SODA) from 1989 to 2018

Abuabara, Leila and Paucar-Caceres, Alberto (2020) Surveying applications of Strategic Options Development and Analysis (SODA) from 1989 to 2018. European Journal of Operational Research. ISSN 0377-2217

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Abstract

Strategic Options Development and Analysis (SODA) is a well-established problem structuring method (PSM) used to tackle problematic situations for at least 30 years within the discipline of Operational Research (OR) and other fields. The aim of this study is to assess the ways academics have been implementing SODA methodology in different fields of knowledge and practice. We started by exploring the SODA history followed by the evaluation of published articles associated with the practical applications of SODA from 1989 (publication date of Rational Analysis for a Problematic World) to 2018. We searched relevant databases and studied 200 SODA-related articles, we examined the scope of each application, whether as a sole SODA application or as a combination with other methodologies. We also investigated which elements of the methodology have been used. Our findings suggest that SODA through its associated technique of cognitive mapping has been used in conjunction with other methods. SODA is a participative methodology designed to provide dialogue, reflection, learning, consensus and commitment, but the sample of articles surveyed indicate that its use has been limited to helping modelling the problematic situation and providing a common understanding to participants. Other core activities, such as group negotiation support, have not been fully used. Our findings suggest that SODA is a methodology suitable to different contexts and its practice has grown steadily over time but that to exploit the full use of its activities, its creators need to produce a set of constitutive rules to guide the applications.

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