Problem structuring methods (PSMs), also known as soft OR approaches, are most commonly employed with teams formed by members who tend to operate within an overall framework of authority and accountability, and most of whom have the 'power to act' on their recommendations. However, other PSM users include teams whose members are drawn from different organisational settings to work on a problem of common interest. The multi-organisational nature of such multi-organisational teams (MOTs) adds further complexity to the PSM modelling and facilitation processes by increasing the potential for conflict regarding the problem. In addition, members of MOTs tend not to operate within an overall framework of authority and accountability and, therefore, do not necessarily have full authority to commit themselves to their joint agreements. This paper reports on the design and application of a PSM-based methodology with three such groups, within the context of a multi-organisational collaboration in the UK construction industry. The paper reflects on the apparent success of the intervention, discusses the appropriateness of PSMs in this particular intervention context, as well as the generalisibility of the findings to other PSMs and/or multi-organisational contexts. Directions for the research and practice of PSMs with MOTs are also presented.
- Group decisions and negotiation
- Multi-organisational teams
- Organisational intervention
- Problem structuring methods