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Operational research, systems thinking and the development of management sciences methodologies in US and the UK

Paucar-Caceres, Alberto (2008) Operational research, systems thinking and the development of management sciences methodologies in US and the UK. Scientific inquiry, 9 (1). pp. 3-18. ISSN 1552-1222

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Abstract

The paper outlines the development of management sciences (MS) and systems thinking (ST) over the last few decades in the US and the UK, tracing the origins of systems thinking in Operational Research approaches developed in the UK and later on in the US. The paper argues that there are substantial differences in the way in which MS was conceived, and developed in both sides of the Atlantic and that this has marked the way ST has developed. ST in the UK has much more systemic edge which has resulted in the development of a number of systemic methodologies whereas in the US, MS and ST is still view as associated with a logical, systematic approach and heavily informed by the development of techniques and decision making aids. After revising earlier classifications of management sciences methodologies, a framework to classify its development identifying four stages is proposed: (1) problem solving methods located between 1940 and 1970; (2) situation-Improving methodologies in the 70s and 80s; (3) Intervention-empowering methodologies 80s and 90s; and (4) a multi-paradigmatic era in the 90s at to the present time. From the classification proposed, conclusions are drawn, highlighting the differences between US and UK systems thinking approaches.

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