Special Issues


Special Issue on Behavioural OR

Volume 249, Issue 3, 3/2016

Guest Editors:

L. Alberto Franco
Loughborough University, UK

Raimo P. Hämäläinen
Aalto University, Finland


Within the OR field, there is an increasing interest in studying behavioural factors affecting model-based problem solving and decision making processes. Recently, the term Behavioural Operational Research (BOR) has been proposed to capture this new development and signal the emergence of an important field of future activity within OR (Hamalainen et al 2013). Defined broadly, BOR relates to the behavioural aspects of the use of OR in problem solving and decision support. The overall purpose of BOR is to make better use of OR by both experts and users, so that the intended benefits of OR are effectively realized in practice. Although behavioural issues have been acknowledged and studied by particular OR communities (e.g. decision analysis, system dynamics, game theory), much more behavioural studies are needed across the full spectrum of OR specialisms. This Special Issue will thus present a representative collection of high quality BOR studies designed to advance our understanding of how behavioural factors affect the conduct of, and interaction with, model-based processes that support problem solving and decision making.


The purpose of this Special Issue is to engage operational researchers who have an interest in the behavioural aspects of OR practice. We will therefore consider conceptual and empirical manuscripts as long as they explicitly consider one or more behavioural dimensions within their work, and they seek to create a new body of knowledge concerning the role and impact of behavioural factors on model-based processes.

We encourage papers from OR scholars and practitioners that address, but are not limited to, the following area topics:

  • Model building: What is the effect of behavioural factors on problem structuring, model specification, data collection, model validation, learning, and satisficing?
  • Model-based interaction: How do individual and group behavioural characteristics affect model-based interactions and vice versa? What is the impact of the facilitator’s behavioural characteristics on model-based interactions? What is the relation between behavioural factors and different model-based interaction formats (eg face-to-face vs online)?
  • Modelling people behaviour: How can people behaviour be effectively modelled? What kind of OR modelling approaches are available to model different behaviours (e.g. crowd behaviour) in complex situations (e.g. emergencies) and systems (e.g. supply chain systems)? What is the role and impact of behavioural models for policy and practice?
  • Communication with and about models: What is the effect of behavioural factors (including individual features such as educational, professional and cultural backgrounds) on the use of quantitative and qualitative visual models?
  • Neurophysiological studies: What can we learn from analysing model-based processes from a neurophysiological perspective to understand the cognitive challenges demanded by different OR approaches?
  • Cognitive biases: How do the biases observed in behavioural decision research transfer to OR model-based processes?
  • Evaluation studies: What can we learn from adopting a behavioural lens to conduct empirical evaluations of different model-based processes?
  • Non-expert use of OR approaches and models: What are the pitfalls and risks? Is quick learning possible?
  • Teaching of OR: What is the impact of behavioural factors on OR teaching practices (including the use of software for teaching)? How to develop effective facilitation and systems intelligence skills?
  • Ethics and OR: How can behavioural factors inform the ethical conduct of OR in practice?

We are interested in behavioural studies that focus on the use of quantitative and qualitative model-based processes that are typical of OR practice. We are also interested in studies that draw from a variety of different theoretical perspectives, such as psychology, economics, sociology, communication, and theories of practice. In terms of methodology, we welcome submissions in which a variety of research strategies and methods for collecting and analysing data are used.


Hämäläinen, R. P., Luoma, J., Saarinen, E. (2013): On the importance of behavioral operational research: The case of understanding and communicating about dynamic systems. European Journal of Operational Research, 228(3): 623-634.

See also: Hämäläinen, R. P. (2015): Behavioural issues in environmental modelling – The missing perspective.Environmental Modelling & Software, 73, pp. 244-253.

Papers in the Special Issue:

Published in a later issue: