Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date





9 (1-10)

Conference Name

Nato 10th Annual Operations Research and Analysis Conference, October 17-18, Norfolk, VA


Soft Operations Research (OR) methods are used for a variety of real-world problems due to their focus on qualitative or interpretative problem formulation and analysis. Analysts use Soft Systems Methodology for problem structuring, drama theory for understanding conflicts, and morphological analysis for decision support. These techniques have an advantage over their quantitative counterparts because they can be used to tame wicked problems. So why is the use of soft OR not widespread in the US? In this paper, we discuss the systems and forces in place that limit soft OR within the US' higher education system and, by extension, the US' OR labour market. We discuss the failed attempts to buck this trend and the consequences of continuing with the hard OR-focused status quo.


"Open Access"

"This information may be freely used and copied for educational and other non-commercial purposes, provided that any reproduction of data be accompanied by an acknowledgement of NATO STO as the source."


Publisher's version available at:


0000-0002-8012-2272 (Collins)

Original Publication Citation

Collins, A. J., & Hester, P. T. (2016). Why are all the softies in Europe? A discussion of the lack of penetration of soft OR in the US. NATO 10th Annual Operations Research and Analysis Conference, October 17-18, 2016, Norfolk, VA.