IFORS 2000


Methodology for Handling Complex Societal Problems


Euro Working Group 21

Operational Research Societies


Methodology for Handling Complex Societal Problems


E U R O XVII, E U R O 2000

17th European Conference on Operational Research

Budapest, Hungary, July 16-19, 2000



Dorien J. DeTombe

Delft University Technology


Book of Abstracts

Volume 7


Dorien J. DeTombe (Ed.)

Delft University Technology


The abstracts are reviewed by:


Board of the Euro Working Group 21


Corresponding address:

Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe, Chair Euro Group, Delft University of Technology

School of Technoly, Policy and Management

Chair Operational Research Euro Working Group Complex Societal Problems

P.O. Box. 3286, 1001 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe

Tel: +31 20 6927526

E-Mail: DeTombe@lri.jur.uva.nl



ISBN 90-5638-0524

Ó Dorien J. DeTombe, All rights reserved, May 2000


Euro Working Group 21 Methodology for Handling Complex Societal Problems


Handling complex societal problems needs a special approach. Handling societal problems in an interdisciplinary way has become a must for our society and a challenge for the human sciences. The problems society is confronted with are difficult to handle. There is a growing gap between the complexity of these problems and the human capacity to deal with them. There is a need for better methods and tools, more knowledge and imagination. Scientific knowledge is needed to survive amidst these problems.

Therefore methodology for handling complex societal problems has become a new field of scientific attention. Some of the scientific reasons for this special approach are that the problems are seldom defined, change during their development, many actors are involved often with a different view on the problem, with different interest and with different ‘solutions’ in mind. Societal reasons for this special approach is the importance of these problems for society, the impact they have on many people, and the large amount of money involved. Combining the effort of scientists who are working in this field is an inspiring serious challenge from the perspective of a number of disciplines. Combining existing knowledge and creating new insights with methods and tools for supporting complex societal problems is a challenge for scientists from different fields.

The goal of the Euro Group 21 on Methodology for Complex Societal Problems is to increase and to combine the available scientifical knowledge regarding the handling of complex societal problems. Means to reach this goal are organizing workshops and conferences, publishing proceedings and books in which the discussion on this subject can take place.


Special sessions and conferences organized by the Euro Working Group 21 on Methodology for Handling Complex Societal Problems:



Books published on the topic of Methodology of Handling Complex Societal Problems





8th STREAM of the conference program



Session 8:1: chair: Prof. Dr. Franz Liebl



8:1:1 Introduction Theme of the Euro Working Group 21: Methodology for

Handling Societal Problems and Introduction to the Conference Track


DeTombe, Dorien J., Dr.

Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe, Chair Euro Group 21, Delft University of Technology

School of Technoly, Policy and Management

Chair Operational Research Euro Working Group Complex Societal Problems

P.O. Box. 3286, 1001 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe

Tel: +31 20 6927526

E-Mail: DeTombe@lri.jur.uva.nl



Keywords: Methodology, Handling Complex Societal Problems, Euro Working Group Complex Societal Problems


The Euro Working Group Complex Societal Problems is an interdisciplinary group of researchers that focuses on methodology for handling complex societal problems. The field of methodology for handling complex societal problems focuses on how to handle complex societal problems. There are many kinds of complex societal problems. Complex societal problems are problems as for example, healthcare problems, transportation problems, environmental problems or urban planning problems. Some of the general aspects of complex societal problems are that they include many phenomena, involving knowledge from many disciplines, much of the knowledge and data needed for handling the problem are missing or in contradiction with each other and of these problems have a large amount of uncertainty. The problems involve many actors each with their own view on the problem, their own interest and goals, and therefore have a great impact on society. Because the knowledge that is needed to handle these problems, the many actors involved and the impact on society, these problems should be handled by groups of persons. Knowledge, power and emotion are the basic elements in handling these kinds of problems. In real life these problems are often handled ad hoc, and hazardous till it goes wrong. Then all kind of support is called in. This often costs society much money and pain which could have been (partly) avoided. These problems should be handled in a structured way from the start. Handling these problems needs a whole scale of group support tools, from gaming to simulation, and individual preparation tools, from data analysis to operational research techniques. There are tools and methods already existing in other fields and special developed tools and methods for this field. How these problems should be supported and what kind of methods and tools are needed in what phase of the problem handling situation is the subject of the Euro Working Group 21.

The Euro Working Group 21 elaborated on the Operational Research Conferences in five year time from 3 paper presenters in 1995 to 30 paper presenters in 2000. The field has several national departments.



8:1:2 Strategic Management and Soft OR-Techniques


Joldersma, Cisca, Dr.

Department of Policy and Organization Science

Tilburg University, P.O. Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands

Tel.: 013-4663153, Email: f.joldersma@kub.nl


Keywords: Problem Structuring, Group Decision Making, Strategic Planning



In nonprofit organizations like hospitals and universities the aim of efficiency seems to be congruent with innovation. A more dynamic environment as well as decreasing governmental budgets encourage these organizations to become involved in strategic management. This paper analyzes whether soft OR techniques are efficient means for developing innovative strategies. Therefore, processes of strategic management without the application of soft_OR techniques are compared with processes of strategic management in which soft_OR techniques are, indeed, applied. Conclusions are drawn about the circumstances in which soft OR techniques can add value to processes of strategic management.



8:1:3 The Value of a System Approach in Multi-actor Settings in the Field of



Riet, Odette A.W.T. van der , Drs.

Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Group of Transport Policy and Logistical Organization, P.O. Box 5015 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands, Email: Odetr@sepa.tudelft.nl


Keywords: Policy Making, Transportation



Public policy issues in the field of transportation are becoming increasingly complex. There are many factors involved, the uncertainty is large, and there are many possible policy options. In addition, there is a huge diversity of actors involved resulting in diverging views on problems.

The proposed paper provides a conceptual model of the transportation system as a tool for policy making. It is a system diagram with an integral description of the factors in the transportation system and the way they interact with each other. The system diagram has been developed using the Dutch situation as a starting point but its use is not limited to the Netherlands: it is meant to be generally applicable.

The system diagram can be used as a tool to structure information and to communicate ideas to the outside world. Moreover, it can be used to generate ideas for creating bridges among diverging perceptions. It can help to clarify the similarities and differences among diverging perceptions (people often have diverging or even conflicting views), and contribute to bridge the gaps among diverging perceptions. By structuring the views, gaps and overlaps can be identified, which can be stimuli for the creation of ideas to build a bridge.




Session 8:2: chair Dr. Cor van Dijkum


8:2:1a Operational Research Methods in Analysing Complex Societal Problems:

new Models and Applications


Makarenko, Alexander S., Prof. Dr.

National Technical University of Ukraine (KPI),

Institute Applied System Analysis, Department Mathematical Methods of System Analysis, Pobedy Avenue, 37, NTUU (KPI), IASA, Dept. MMSA

252056 Kiev Ukraine, Tel: +38444411160, Email: makalex@mmsa.ntu-kpi.kiev.ua



Beradze, M., Kutaisy Technical University, Kutaisy, Georgia, Laskavenko, K., NTUU "KPI", IASA, Kiev, Ukraine, Mnakazianian, M., Kutaisy Technical University, Kutaisy, Georgia, Pushin, R. , NTUU "KPI", IASA, Kiev, Ukraine & Samorodov, E., NTUU "KPI", IASA, Kiev, Ukraine


Keywords: OR Applications, Neural Networks, Negotiation and Conflict Management



Now all recognised the needs of solving societal problems on the strict scientific base. Earlier A.Makarenko the new models with associative memory proposed for such goal. We proposed essential development of approach in this report. Applications to next real problems are considered:

  1. Demography problems in interregional aspect;
  2. Election processes in Ukraine;
  3. The multi-valuedness in society development ways;
  4. The conflicts in society;
  5. Global economics and future intellectual manufacturing systems.

The approach incorporates ideas from games theory, neuronal nets, multi-criteria optimisation, hierarchical systems theory, conflict control problems and human sciences. Distinctive feature of proposed approach consists in possibility to account mentality property in natural way.




8:2:1b Social Informatics as Synthesis of Social Sciences and Informatics Approach:

new Educational Discipline for Universities


Makarenko, A. Prof. Dr.,

National Technical University of Ukraine (KPI), Institute of Applied System Analysis, Kiev, Ukraine


Keywords: Social Informatics, Methodology, Education



It is recognized now that complexity of recent social life demands interdisciplinary approach. Such investigations are the matter of researchers from different sciences. An example is Euro Working Group 21 activity. But the next step in such direction should be implementation of new ideas in reality. Such applications demand learning new specialists with interdisciplinary mentality.

In proposed report we describe the new educational specialty for such goals – "social informatics". There are three main blocks of disciplines: humanity sciences (sociology, politics, psychology); computer sciences and mathematical and physical (including synergetic and computer geoinformational systems). The mathematical block also includes system analysis, mathematical modeling of social processes. It is a supposed application of gaming and simulation, modeling, case studies by students. The examples are demography, geopolitics, and election.



8:2:1c Human Society History: Concepts, Phenomena and models. A Comparative



Makarenko, A., Prof. Dr.,

National Technical University of Ukraine (KPI), Institute of Applied System Analysis, Kiev, Ukraine


Keywords: Civilization, Culture, Historical Progress, Models



Human sciences have a long history and many achievements. First of all it should be remarked some global concepts such as goals of society, historical progress and their indexes, civilizations, culture, science. These concepts firstly originated from empirical research and hadn’t been strictly formalized. Now the development of science follows to more strict formalizations of background notions and objects under investigation and moreover modeling.

The parallel review of traditional concepts and strict models are displayed in report. It was compared as issues above as many new: sustainable development, World order, global economics and market, Enchant history, education as whole, nation, languages, hermeneutics. The well-established results and new models are discussed.

Entirely new are the author’s models with accounting individual mentality. The unexpected consequences of new models for methodology are posed. For example, the anticipatory property of individuals lead to many scenarios of development and to deep analogs of society history to behavior of some natural systems. The sources of non-classical logic in new models are described. Consequences for history interpretation and learning are discussed.



8:2:2 INIDET as an Investigators Network as a Research Tool to Cope with

Globality of Productive Systems


Ruffier, Jean, PH.D.

GLYSI-safa, ISH, 14 av Berthelot, F69363 LYON Cedex7, France

Tel: +334 72 72 64 13, Fax: +334 72 00 21 73, Email: Jean.Ruffier@ish-lyon.cnrs.fr


Keywords: Knowledge-Based Systems, Networks, OR Applications in Energy, Engineering, Environment/Ecology, Telecommunication, Water Resources



Sociologists know so many obvious reasons for failure in managing complex industrial productive systems, that explanations of success are difficult to arrive at. We assume this incapacity to explain even relatively common successes lies in methods of analysis which are inadequate when dealing with complexity.

First, the paper will define complexity as a sociological problem. Then, it will indicate how this restricts the scope of theorisation. Therefore, it will use the example of one steering committee coping with the impossibility of giving all the knowledge necessary to decision makers. Finally, we discuss how a small network of researchers have developed a tool which appears to have better prediction capacities than most management tools or economic indicators.



8:2:3 Agents Interactions and Co-evolutionary Learning


Batten, Dr. David and Bertil Marksjö*

Temaplan Group (Applied Systems Analysis for Industry and Government), Australia

P.O. Box 3026, Dendy Brighton 3187, Australia

Phone: +61 3 9592 0720, Fax: +61 3 9592 8705,Email: batten@netlink.com.au

*CSIRO Division of Building, Construction and Engineering, Australia

Keywords: Agent-Based Modeling, Artificial Intelligence




Some pioneering attempts at agent-based modeling in the social sciences were carried out a generation ago by Harvard’s Thomas Schelling. In many respects, Schelling anticipated various themes that are currently at the forefront of agent-based simulation, social complexity, and economic evolution. Yet he lacked the computational capacity to reveal the full consequences of his innovative ideas. Because the study of large numbers of agents, with changing patterns of interactions, quickly gets too difficult for an explicit mathematical solution, computer simulation becomes obligatory. Today’s agent-based experiments in silico have three ingredients: boundedly rational agents, an environment in which they "live", and a set of rules. Although these artificial agents are intelligent and adaptive, the processes of inference, learning and discovery that they can embrace are often simplistic. Learning agents can be arbitrarily intelligent, but unless they know other agents’ learning methods they cannot know if their own learning processes are efficient. Agents can only discover the efficacy of their own learning methods by testing them against others. In this paper, we review some examples of locally interacting agents who reason inductively to produce novel, large-scale effects. We cannot "solve" this kind of agent-based model, but instead we must "evolve" it. Individual beliefs become endogenous, competing within a larger ecology of all agents’ beliefs. Furthermore, this ecology of beliefs co-evolves over time, as agents adapt to the choices of other agents and the state of their environment. The paper concludes with a few suggestions concerning the ways we might build more realistic co-evolutionary learning mechanisms into agent-based experiments with artificial societies.




Session 8:3: chair Dr. Cathal Brugha


8:3:1 AHP and the Selection of Applications for Charitable Funding


Freeman , Jim, Dr.

School of management UMIST, P.O.Box 88 Manchester M60 1QD, United Kingdom

Tel: 016 200 3430 Fax: 0161 200 3505, Email: j.freeman@umist.ac.uk


Keywords: Complex Societal Problems, Charitable Funding



Trends away from social service have left many communities increasingly reliant on charitable bodies for practical and financial assistance. As a consequence, local organizations - such as the Buxton & District Lions Club (BDLC) - have seen a marked hike in requests for help even though, in the case of BDLC, its funding capability in recent years has hardly changed.

Compounding the problem, applications historically have been so diverse that prioritizing which to act on has often been both difficult and extremely time-consuming.

As part of an investigation into how its selection process could be made more efficient (faster and scientific) as well as transparent, BDLC recently tested the AHP methodology out on a sample of past applications. Despite initial reservations, the technique in fact proved remarkably insightful and predictions from the analysis were found to significantly agree with funding decisions actually taken.



8:3:2 Using Knowledge Management to Support Policy Analysis


Simard, Albert J., Dr.

Natural Resources Canada, 580 Booth Street, K1A 0E4, Ottawa Ontario, Canada

Tel: 613-947-9023, Fax: 613-947-909, Email: alsimard@nrcan.gc.ca


Keywords: Knowledge Management, Policy Analysis, Decision-Support Systems



This paper provides a comprehensive framework that incorporates all aspects of knowledge management in a policy analysis context. Social issues are substantially more complex and far less quantitative than those, which conventional Decision-Support Systems can address. Issue analysis requires processing information from multiple domains. Therefore, an infrastructure is needed to horizontally integrate data warehouses, information repositories, and knowledge sources across multiple domains. We must develop ways to use the revolution in information and computer technologies to access inputs; add value to content by transforming data into information and information into knowledge; and disseminate knowledge products. The technology must also be adapted to preserving knowledge assets. Issue analysis is also fundamentally an institutional undertaking. Therefore, knowledge management must address the organisational context that surrounds it. This includes: understanding knowledge work and knowledge workers; forms and structures of information governance; strategic planning and policy formulation in relation to knowledge; establishing and allocating resources to knowledge management initiatives; changing organisational cultures from controlling to sharing knowledge; and fostering organisational learning to increase, capture, and mobilise tacit knowledge. Finally, knowledge management must be promoted as a key component of policy analysis.



8:3:3 A System of Soft Approaches for Supporting Complex Decision Making in



Soerensen, Lene, Ph.D.,

Center for Tele-Information, Technical University of Denmark

DK-2800 Lyngby, Denmark, Tel: +45 4525 5170 Fax: +45 4596 3171

Email: lene@cti.dtu.dk


Keywords: Methodology for Societal Problems, Strategic Planning



Methodological approaches for solving, supporting or structuring complex decision making are usually selected given the existing knowledge and characterizations of the problem associated. This means that there is a tendency to apply almost predetermined approaches for specific problems. Over the years, this has sometimes created unforeseen 'failures' and a debate about whether applying hard or soft OR as alternatives for obtaining successful decision making. This paper takes its basis in a case study and discusses the need for application of a system of approaches in support for complex decision making. The case study refers to strategic decision making on Iceland in terms of the fish meal and oil industries. The Icelandic economy is highly dependent on these industries and with significant stock declines and new increasing global competition, a strategy has to be formed to cope with the complex situation. The study illustrates the need for using a system of soft (and hard) approaches to support the whole decision making process and to address the different levels of complexity arising.


8:3:4 A Complex Societal Problem: Rehabilitation of Partially Disabled People in

the Workforce in the Netherlands

Uijl, Stella den, Drs. & Bahlmann, Tineke, Prof. Dr.*

University Utrecht, Department of Economics

Faculty of Law, Kromme Nieuwgracht 22

3512 HH Utrecht, The Netherlands, Tel.:030-2537100

*Tel: 030-2537118, Email: Bahlmann@planet.nl

Keywords: Complex Societal Problems, Disabled People


Compared to its neighbouring countries the Netherlands has a relatively large number of people whom receive income support under the various Sicknesses and Disability Insurance Acts. Because of the enormous costs involved, a considerable number of measures have been taken with a view to reducing this large number of people who live on benefits instead of on wages.

Although these measures are fairly diverse, it is possible to make a broad distinction between two types of measures. Roughly speaking, there are measures, which primarily aim at producing a reduction the number of people who live from the benefits and in the expenditures on benefits, and there are measures, which are intended to bring about reintegration of beneficiaries in the workforce.

Statistics show nevertheless, that in spite of all this the rehabilitation or reintegration of partially disabled people in the workforce still proceeds very slowly. Over the last few years the problem of insufficient reintegration of partially disabled people has become an issue of growing political concern. The increasing awareness of the great importance of having as many as possible people participate in the labour process plays a significant role. Sprouting from this awareness, the promotion of reintegration of partially disabled people was given highest priority during the Nineties. In order to achieve this goal, this time emphasis was put on strengthening the sense of individual responsibility of employers and employees to co-operate in ensuring the financial feasibility of the social security system. Active reintegration policy at company level seems an effective way to meet this responsibility.

But what factors contribute to successful reintegration of partially disabled into the labour process at company level including the effects of regulations in as far as this concerns the situation within the company? This seems to be a complicated process, in which several factors on macro, meso and micro level have their influences. The organisation forms part of the environment. The government, local authorities and social partners all influence the employer's behaviour concerning reintegration of partially disabled employees. One mustn't look at the employer as a person of a group, since several key figures inside the organisation like management staff, the personnel functionary, direct chief and the company doctor all influence the reintegration process.

From this the question arises: What are these critical success factors exactly for key figures leading to a successful reintegration of partially disabled people?

One way to find out is doing several best practise case studies at six Dutch companies and map out this complex process.

Weick's theory is useful to analyse this process, since the theory doesn't take the view of ones individual behaviour, but emphasises the interaction patron, which restricts to the behaviour of the key figures' relative position. These interaction processes together form a process, at which there is a distinction between negative and positive feedback mechanisms. By doing case studies and applying Weicks' theory, one tries to contribute to the insight regarding the complexes which play a part by the decision making process. This process precedes to the recruiting and keeping of partially disabled employees.

In our paper we shall elaborate on the outcome of the six case studies in The Netherlands. We will also discuss the policy in Germany and Sweden.



Session 8:4: chair Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe


8:4:1 Dealing With Complex Issues and Helping to Determine a Way Ahead


Brugha, Cathal M. Ph.D & Bowen, Ken Prof. Dr. *

Department of Management Information Systems,

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.

Email: Cathal.brugha@ucd.ie

*Department of Mathematics, Royal Holloway, University of London,

Egham Hill, Egham, Surry TW20 0EX, England.


Keywords: Complex Issues



In the course of meeting at several conferences the authors discovered parallels between Brugha's Eight Adjustment Types in Nomology and Bowen's Eight Faces of Research. This paper explores these commonalties to determine if there is sufficient evidence to suggest that they reflect an inherent common structure.



8:4:2 Foundations of Operational Research and Some Applications


Ponce, Theta, Ph.D.

University of Asia and the Pacific

Institute for Environmental Studies, College of Arts and Sciences

Pearl Drive, Ortigas Centre, Pasig city 1605, MetroManila, Philippenes

Tel: +632-634-2829, Fax: +632-634-2827, Email: theta@cas.uap.edu.ph


Keywords: Operational Research, Complex Societal Problems



This article considers the nature, historical background, basic elements and stages of operations research. Several examples on the application of operations research to

specific scientific, environmental and business problems are considered to illustrate the methodology.



8:4:3 Multi Criteria Decision Making for Slovenian Low and Medium Radioactive

Nuclear Waste Disposal

Vezjak, Prof. Dr. Marjan, A. Persin, *I. Mele, &**T. Savsek

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Email: Marjan.Vezjak@fe.uni-lj.si

* Agencija za Radioaktivne Odpadke, Ljubljana, Slovenia

** Ministry of Defence, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Keywords: Multi Criteria Decision Making, Nuclear Waste



Decision-making is permanent issue in all spheres of activities. As a part of daily routine ease, intuition or plain reason can perform it. The complexity of the given problem rises as more alternative and parameters arise as a consequence of the analysis of the complex interdisciplinary societal problem. The aim of location selection for low and medium radioactive nuclear waste disposal (which represent in Slovenia a complex societal problem) was to show the applicability of PROMETHEE DSS method. The results have proven the method appropriate as a decision making tool for this purpose.





Session 8:5: chair Prof. Dr. Heiner Müller-Merbach


8:5:1 Personal Interests and the Moral Issue in Collective Behavior and Action


Derner, Norbert, Prof., Dr.

Technical University of München, Connollystr. 32, D-80809 München, Germany

Tel: 089 289-24521 Fax: 089 289-24535, Email: k.h.leist@sppae.wiso.tu-muenchen.de


Keywords: Personal Interests, Self-Organization



The growth of research on personal interests in the last decade indicates the continuing importance of this pedagogical and psychological construct motivating individual involvement with long-term goals. The presentation will begin by briefly reviewing the different perspectives of the contemporary theory and of empirical studies, which are relevant in the field of value-oriented behavior. Finally we will discuss the question how to bridge the gap between genuine interests, especially personal enjoyment and self-direction, and the moral issue in collective behavior and action. Challenging approaches to study this problem may be drawn form the theories of self-organization and synergetics because they deal which systems composed of many parts which, by their corporation, can produce patterns of coherent action on macroscopic scales.



8:5:2 Valid Knowledge to Handle Complex Societal Problems in an

Interdisciplinary Way


Dijkum, Cor van, Dr.

Department of Methodology and Statistics, Faculty of Social Science, Utrecht University

Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands

Tel. work: +31 30 2534911, Fax: +31 30 2535797, Tel. home: +31 20 6622002

Email: c.vandijkum@fss.uu.nl, http://www.fsw.ruu.nl/ms/cvd/cvd.htm


Keywords: Knowledge-Based Systems, Simulation, Managing Uncertainty



In the next millennium society will confront us with problems that are very difficult to handle. In the natural sciences as well in the social sciences there are some pioneers who try to handle these complex societal problems in an interdisciplinary way. In operational research it is for example a good tradition to use the best of available techniques not only to solve technical problems, but also to try to solve societal problems. In the social sciences on the other hand some researchers try to combine the best of techniques of the social sciences with methods from the field of operational research to gain progress in the handling of these problems.

However concerning the question which approaches are adequate to handle complex societal problems and are leading to valid knowledge many answers are not yet given.

In this paper it is tried to give some answers to this challenging question.

The first question answered in the paper is: what are complex societal problems? With the pioneering work of the members of the IFORS group Methodology for Complex Societal Problems (for example: DeTombe 1994, DeTombe & Dijkum 1996) as a starting point the concept of complex societal problem is defined. Thereby it is argued that the mathematical theory of complexity is needed to define the concept of complex (societal) problems in an adequate way (Dijkum 2000, forthcoming).

In this interdisciplinary setting the paper is focused on the second question: how can the mathematical theory of complexity help to model complex (societal) problems in such a way that it leads to valid knowledge? Especially the method of computer simulation is introduced to demonstrate what complexity means, also in the social domain, and how non-linear models of phenomena can help to get insight in complex (societal) problems. The demonstration is illustrated by a number of research examples. The question how in such a way valid (scientific) knowledge is developed is answered from these examples in a global way (Dijkum & DeTombe 1998). An example of the practice of social research from the author and colleagues (Kuijk 1996) is taken to answer this question in a more systematic and specific way.

8:5:3 Testing Methods for Complex Real Life Problems


DeTombe, Dorien J., Dr.

Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe, Chair Euro Group Complex Societal Problems, Delft University of Technology

School of Technoly, Policy and Management

Chair Operational Research Euro Working Group Complex Societal Problems

P.O. Box. 3286, 1001 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe

Tel: +31 20 6927526

E-Mail: DeTombe@lri.jur.uva.nl



Keywords: Method, Complex Societal Problems, Evaluation



Testing methods for complex real life problems is a complex task in itself. Usual methods are tested in a controlled environment in which participants and variables are more or less controlled. Using the method meant for real life problem handling, in which real experts and actors play a role, in an artificial environment, does not give the right view on the acting of the method. Testing a method in a real life situation makes controlling and a comparison of the participants, the problem, the variables and sometimes even of the selected hypotheses almost impossible. However to prevent this dilemma, there is a possibility to make a logical test: a development test of the method, by using the method in a real life situation and see whether the tasks, the description and the goals of the method are logical, clear and complete. Based on this test the method can be tested in real life. The real life situation should be selected in view of the goals of the method. Because it is not possible to compare two the same cases which each other the methods should be validated which its own goals land hypotheses. An example is given of the Compram method (DeTombe 1994).



Session 8:6: chair Prof. Dr. Ken Bowen


8:6: 1 Design and Use of Strategic Scenarios in Problem Formulation


Enserink, Bert, Dr. Ir.

Delft University of Technology

School of Systems Engineering, Policy Analysis and Management

P.O.Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands

Tel.: +31 15 278 8071, Fax: +31 15 278 3422, Email: berte@sepa.tudelft.nl



Keywords: Forecasting, Managing Uncertainty



Problem formulation is one of the hardest and most neglected phases of problem solving. A problem can be defined as a gap between a normative standard and the existing or desired future situation. The desired situation may be known, but the future is inevitably shrouded in uncertainty. Despite the variety of 'clever' techniques at our disposal looking into the future is difficult.

The subject of this paper is coping with this kind of uncertainty in problem formulation. As pro-active policy making and anticipating the unexpected is required, scenario analysis might serve as a sensitivity analysis of the problem formulation. The paper describes the application of a method for designing strategic scenarios for problem formulation. The method is developed and tested in a policy analysis teaching environment.



8:6:2 On a Multimethodology Problem Solving Framework and the Issue of

Paradigm Incommensurability


Petkova, Dr. Olga

University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, Private bag X1, School of Maths,Stats & IT,

3201, Scottsville, South Africa

Tel. 2733-2605645, Fax 2733-2605648, Email: opetkova@it.unp.ac.za


Keywords: Societal Problems/Systems, Multi-criteria Decision Analysis, Decision Technology



A framework for solving complex problems based partly on Multimethodology and other recent advances in Systems Thinking is discussed. It includes techniques from MCDA, Soft Systems Thinking and Critical Systems Heuristics. It was applied by the author to problems of organizational transformation, evaluation of factors affecting software development productivity in an IT organization and elsewhere. The possible mechanism of interaction between the techniques as well as the issue of paradigm incommensurability links ideas by G. Midgley, M. Jackson and J. Hassard. The resulting framework is combining the strong aspects of the techniques involved. It is applicable to a wide range of complex societal problems requiring both soft and harder approaches.


8:6: 3 Inland Waterway Transportation and Handling of Hazardous Material

"Identification of incident scenarios and estimation of the distances of effect"


Shahriari, Mohammad, Mattos, Luis de* & Örtengren, Roland**

Department of Ergonomics, Chalmers University of Technology

SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden, Phone: +46 31 772 3639, Fax: +46 31 772 3660,

Email: msh@mvd.chalmers.se, *Email: mattos@mvd.chalmers.se

**Email: orten@ip.chalmers.se


Keywords: Water Transport, Scenario



Inland waterways have an important role in transportation of different types of goods including hazardous material. This type of transportation has proved to be efficient, environmentally friendly and economic. However the transportation of hazardous goods implies risks to the existing residential areas around the riverside.

Compared to land transportation, a large amount of material is transported inside a single vessel, e.g. a tanker. Therefore, if an accident occurs, depending on water flow and wind characteristics, dispersion of leaked material can take place very fast. In such a case, a prompt response is needed to protect the people and the environment.

The purpose of this paper is to identify incident scenarios associated with serious consequences and to estimate within which distances the people might be faced to risk, and what would be the effects of such incidents on the environment. The study in the paper is focused on a case sited in the north of Europe. On the basis of the findings, recommendations are given on safety improvements and emergency situation procedures.




Session 8:7: chair Prof. Dr. Marjan Vezjak


8:7:1 OR/MS Process: Parallel Components versus Consecutive Phases

Müller-Merbach, Heiner
Universitat Kaiserslautern, P.O.Box 3049  D-67653 Kaiserslautern, Germany
Tel: +49-631-205-2982, Fax:+49-631-205-338, Email:hmm@sozwi.uni-kl.de

Keywords: OR/MS


It will be suggested that the OR/MS process should be organized in parallel components instead of consecutive phases. This is in accordance with the principles of simultaneous engineering. Four aspects of OR/MS process management will be considered: (i) content of the components, (ii) network structure of the components, (iii) purpose of the components, (iv) procedure of the components.

8:7:2 The Role of Corporate Citizenship in Strategic Management


Liebl, Frank, Prof. Dr.

Chair for Strategic Marketing, University of Witten/Herdecke

Alfred-Herrhausen-Str. 50, D-58448 , Witten, Germany

Tel.: +49 2302 926 524, Fax: +49 2302 926 527, Email: FranzL@uni-wh.de


Keywords: Societal Problems, Methodology Societal Problems, Societal Systems



Corporate Citizenship is an emerging paradigm in the way corporations are defining their position in society. It points out that corporations have a stance similar to citizens, with corresponding rights and duties. This attitude towards society emphasizes the notion of legitimacy thereby making it easier to integrate societal issues and social sponsoring into the context of strategic management. In an age where products become increasingly similar in quality and functions, associations with public well being and ethical conduct become an important source of differentiation. To achieve that, a consistent configuration of corporate mission, corporate communications, and brand/product development is required whereby each element is referring to the focal social theme. The paper will discuss in detail how societal issues may be used as a basis for gaining sustainable competitive advantage.




8:7:3 Using Factor Analysis to Identify Consumer Preferences and Understand

Consumer Valuation for a Natural Area


Nunes, Paulo Augusto Lourenco Dias

Dept. of Spatial and Environment Economics

Faculty of Economics and Econometric Sciences, Free University of Amsterdam

De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tel: +3120444 60 29, Fax: +3120444 60 04, Email: p.nunes@econ.vu.nl


Keywords: Consumer Preference, Natural Area



In this paper we analyze the construction of motivational factors. These latent variables, together with the respondent’s socio-economic characteristics, will help us to identify consumer preferences and understand consumer valuation for Natural Areas. In the present research we use the valuation results of a contingent valuation survey run in Portugal in 1997. The questionnaire includes a list of 26 attitudinal items. The respondent expresses her opinion by classifying each sentence using a five point semantic differential or Likert scale. Bearing in mind the value of the scores on the underlying items, we use factor analysis to investigate the nature of the individual consumer preference structure. The relevance of these variables is twofold. Firstly, we are able to identify a consumer preference or motivational structure. Secondly, we are able to compute the motivation factor scores and introduce them, together with the respondent’s socio-economic characteristics, in a multivariate regression of the valuation function for the Natural Area.

This paper is divided into three sections. In the first section we explore factor analysis as a data reduction technique. We present the underlying estimation method and discuss the assumptions made. The estimation results show that the consumer structure is characterized by three factors. The factor 1 collects a number of items related to the general attitude of the respondent with respect to the direct consumption of natural areas for recreational use. Therefore we label this latent construct as the ‘use/recreation motivation’. A higher score on this factor indicates a strong propensity for recreation. Factor 2 collects a number of items, which are related with the general feeling of well being or satisfaction generated by the act of giving. We label this latent factor as the ‘warmglow motivation’. A high score on this factor reveal that the respondent experiences warmglow when contributing, i.e., contributing makes her feel good. Factor 3 collects a number of items indicating the respondent’s ethical belief or moral consideration with respect to the preservation of wildlife, independent of its human use. For this reason we labeled this factor as the ‘nonuse motivation’. Highly scoring respondents are concerned with the existence of wildlife and its preservation. In the second section we compute individual factor scores and introduce them in the Natural Area valuation function. The estimation results confirm that the motivation factor are econometric robust and thus be interpreted as an important driving force underlying the consumer valuation of Natural Areas. Finally, in the third we discuss the role of factorial analysis in the domain of economics, and specially, in the domain of environmental economics.



Session 8:WS: chair Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe


8:WS:1 Workshop Methodology for Handling Complex Societal Problems

DeTombe, Dorien J., Dr.

Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe, Chair Euro Group 21, Delft University of Technology

School of Technoly, Policy and Management

Chair Operational Research Euro Working Group Complex Societal Problems

P.O. Box. 3286, 1001 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe

Tel: +31 20 6927526

E-Mail: DeTombe@lri.jur.uva.nl



Keywords: Methodology, Societal Problems



In this workshop the scientific questions in the field of methodology for handling complex societal problems are discussed. An overview of the questions raised in the presentations of the papers of the conference, together with the scientific questions, will be discussed.

A selection of the scientific questions are:



The questions are discussed in subgroups, guided by a facilitator and reported afterwards plenary in the workshop.

All participants of the conference, especially the paper presenters, are invited to join the discussion and to select one of the burning questions. Entrance is free.





9th STREAM of the conference program




Session 9:1: chair Dr. Ciska Joldersma


9:1: 1 Structuring and Analyzing Complex Societal Problems Using Morphological



Ritchey, Thomas

Swedish Defence Research Establishment (FOA), 172 90 Stockholm, Sweden

Tel. : +46-8-706 38 57, Fax : +46-8-706 38 68, Email: ritchey@sto.foa.se


Keywords: Societal Problems, Methodology Societal Problems, Societal Systems



Morphological analysis (MA) is a non-quantified, non-causal modeling method for structuring and analyzing complex socio-technical problems. It can be used for developing scenarios, for defining and analyzing complex policy spaces or for assessing the relationship between means and ends in strategic planning. It has been developed in order to facilitate group work and co-operation both between different scientific disciplines and between actors in different sectors and at different societal levels.

The history and theory of morphological analysis is presented. Two case studies are then

described. The first study analyses the complex structure of economic crime and identifies its various types or forms. The relationship between type of crime, methods and victims is then related to 6 methods of control or sanctions.

The second study concerns the vulnerability of electricity production and distribution in

Sweden to various acts of sabotage. It relates motive, types of actors, levels of competence and ethical limitations to types of weapons used, objects targeted, scope and consequences.



9:1: 2 Spatial Representations for Assembling Objects


Alberto Greco (Italy)


Keywords: Spatial Representation, Cognitive Psychology



The purpose of this paper is to describe some research on cognitive aspects in graphical presentations (drawings, diagrams) used as directions for assembling objects. On the basis of empirical observation, the following aspects were studied:

- elements of diagrams about operations to be performed

- relationships between observed elements and assembling performance

- element translation in verbal terms, and integration between graphic and linguistic aspects.



9:1: 3 Interactive Planning - a Systems Approach to Problems Solving

Slavica, P. Petrovic,

University of Kragujevac, Faculty of Economics, Kragujevac, Yugoslavia

Email: slavicap@ uis0.uis.kg.ac.yu

Keywords: Societal Problems, Methodology For Societal Problems, Societal Systems


The managerial problems with properties of complexity and pluralism are the subject of research. Interactive planning (IP) is a systems-based approach appropriate to the complex-pluralist problem contexts in question. The conceptual framework of IP is based upon the following philosophical attitudes: objectivity should be treated as resulting from the open interaction of various individual subjectivity’s; the changed conceptions of the world and of the corporations require a different kind of planning; the process of interactive planning is aimed at designing a desirable future and inventing ways of bringing it about; dissolving problems implies changing the system and/or the environment in which the mess is embedded so that problems disappear.
The key principles of IP refer to the stakeholders’ participation, continuity and holism.
IP methodology has five phases: formulating the mess (a reference scenario is a formulation of the problem situation the organization is currently in); ends planning (an idealized design for the future of the organization has to be technologically feasible and operationally viable); means planning (the gap between the desired future and the current state has to be overcome); resource planning; design and implementation and control.Based upon belief in a consensual social world and in the efficacy of participation, IP tries to handle both the complexity of the problems facing organizations and the pluralism resulting from their serving various stakeholders.



Session 9:2: chair Dr. Bert Enserink


9:2:1 Quality Management of the Cultural Heritage


Urtane, Mara

Latvia University of Agriculture, 19 Akademijas Street, LV-3001, Jelgava, Latvia

Tel: + 371 3028791, Fax: + 371 3022180, Email: m_urtane@latnet.lv


Keywords: Quality Control/Management, OR Applications in Regional Development, OR Applications In Cultural Heritage



Paper will make introduction with international program "HERITY" and implementation of Quality Management issues in cultural landscapes.

Understanding history is essential for understanding how our present landscape, environment and social organization have come to be. Cultural Heritage Quality is complex and multi-dimensional. Often it has only been partially understood by historians, archaeologists, architects, landscape architects and museum administrators. The aim of the international program "HERITY" is to develop a more comprehensive understanding of quality aspects of cultural heritage, the rationale and the outcome of diverse means and measures for promoting and controlling cultural heritage, it includes open sites, landscapes, museums archives in different countries. Quality management of cultural heritage should be oriented to its preservation in the context of sustainable development. In order to achieve this goal "HERITY" will focus on three main areas: education, preservation and promotion. The Secretariat located in Rome will co-ordinate discussion an promote the objective of "HERITY." integrating specialists from different fields and countries: UK, Hungary, Italy, Canada, Latvia, Portugal, Spain and international organizations and institutions.

The paper will display ways how to solve any problem in cultural landscape management where social, economical, environmental and cultural questions comes together and overlap each other. To promote and develop an interest in cultural heritage access must be open and understandable to a wide range of people.



9:2:2 The Research of Sustainable Development of Enterprises


Wu Yuying, Prof. Dr., Yan Feng & Cheng Huojin

System Anylasis Institute, Beijing Polytechnic University

100022 Beijing, China, Tel.: (010)67391958, Email: hlbao@solaris.bjpu.edu.cn


Keywords: Societal Problems, Methodology Societal Problems, Societal Systems



The input-output analysis of economic balance in real estate or value form only considers the input and output of the material product section. The sustainable development considers the ecological system including population, economics, natural resources and environment. The input-output analysis of sustainable development has to take them into consideration such as labor input, natural resource input, wastage brought along with the product output and the impact of wastage on the environment. The input-output tables in real estate or value form could not be applied directly in the analysis of sustainable development due to the complexity of the ecological system. The ecological system including population, economics, natural resources and environment should be measured in energy, therefore, the energy-type input-output table is the extension of that in the real estate or value form. The inputs of input-output table in energy form consist of not only the material product input, but also the human resource input and the natural resource input; its outputs consist of not only the material output, but also the wastage output and the impact of wastage on the environment. The energy-type input-output model, including population, economics, natural resources and environment, is given in the paper. The model is applied in the analysis of sustainable development.



9:2:3 Towards User-friendly OR: A Chinese Case


Zhichang Zhu

DBA Office, Hull University Business School (HUBS), University of Hull

Hull HU6 7RX, United Kingdom

Tel: +44-1482-322054 (H), +44-1482-466457 (O), Email: z.zhu@hubs.hull.ac.uk


Keywords: User-friendly OR, China



In contemporary China, user-friendliness has become not only a necessity for the success of OR projects but also a must for the survival of OR workers. This paper presents an approach that, drawing upon insights from Chinese thought as well as OR/MS experience in the Chinese context since 1950s, intends to assist enhancing user-friendliness in OR process. The paper also reports a real world project in which OR workers pursue the user-friendliness of their work under the guidance of the insights and the approach. A cultural analysis of the approach and the project suggests that, while user-friendly OR is a universal concern, the eastern and the western ways to tackle the issue appear different. The paper concludes that, as a reality, Chinese OR workers must enhance their vision and skills so as to solve socio-technical problems with diverse management methods and doing so in a user-friendly manner.




9:2:4 Postmerger Human Issues: A System Dynamics Approach


Mikolajek, Anne

E.S.C.P. - Décanat, 79 avenue de la République, F - 75011 Paris, France

Tel.: + 331 49 23 20 34, Fax : + 331 49 23 20 36, Email: mikolaje@escp.fr


Keywords: System Dynamic



The objective of this paper is to develop a typology and a model based on system analysis to explain and forecast the main types of human issues after the occurrence of mergers. We use complex system dynamics approaches and case studies spread in different fields (banking, Food industry and universities) to illustrate our analysis. We obtain a segmentation of different types of mergers, consequences and policies to enforce in practice.




See for  more information on the NOSMO Research Group Complex Societal Problems


See for more information West_Euro Research Group Complex Societal Problems


See for more information Euro Working Group Complex Societal Problems


See for more information  Research Groups on Complex Societal Problems



See for information about  Methods of Complex Societal Problems COMPRAM


For direct policy support in handling complex societal problems 

Foundation Greenhill & Waterfront




Ó Dorien J. DeTombe, All rights reserved, May 2001