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Title: The need for simple educational case-studies to show the benefit of soft operations research to real-world problems

Authors: Andrew Collins; John Shull; Ying Thaviphoke

Addresses: Old Dominion University, 1030 University Blvd., Suffolk, Virginia, USA ' Old Dominion University, 1030 University Blvd., Suffolk, Virginia, USA ' Old Dominion University, 1030 University Blvd., Suffolk, Virginia, USA

Abstract: Soft operations research (OR) methods have the potential to provide deep qualitative insights into the complex problems that face our world. However, the propagation of soft OR has, at best, stagnated in recent years and it has been rejected from mainstream academic hard (quantitative) OR. In this paper, it is proposed that there is a need for simple educational example that actually shows the benefit of soft OR. The paper suggests that these examples should be real-world case studies that do not include convoluted graphics or verbose prose descriptions. An example case study has been included in this paper. This case study investigates the impact of beer price changes to two virtually identical restaurant-bars in the Hampton Roads region of the USA. The case study shows that a simple quantitative analysis results in erroneous conclusions which could be avoided by conducting a simple qualitative analysis.

Keywords: qualitative methods; soft operations research; problem structuring methods; restaurant revenue management; educational case studies.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSE.2019.097927

International Journal of System of Systems Engineering, 2019 Vol.9 No.1, pp.75 - 97

Received: 24 Apr 2018
Accepted: 25 Sep 2018

Published online: 15 Feb 2019 *

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