This review maps the body of behavioural OR studies that focus on interventions. The term ‘intervention’ is used here to refer to a designed problem-solving system in which individuals or groups engage with OR methods, processes and tools in order to complete a set task or address a real-world problem. We surveyed the relevant OR literature covering a 30-year period, and develop a typology to organise our corpus of reviewed studies. The typology is comprised of four types of studies, each type representing a distinctive approach in terms of its assumptions about behaviour (determinist or voluntarist) and the research methodologies they use (variance or process), and each type is concerned with different research questions that do not cut across other approaches. By categorising studies in this way, and drawing on research in associated cognate areas where relevant, eight empirically-generated knowledge themes emerge: intervention configurations, individual differences, model-driven support impacts, (un)intended use, model building process, engagement paths and strategies, facilitated modelling practice, and sociomaterial dynamics. Each of these knowledge themes provides important insights into the behavioural factors that affect, or are affected by, OR-supported activity. We conclude our review with ten suggestions for further developing the behavioural OR agenda concerned with interventions.
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Earlier versions of this review and associated typology were presented at EURO conferences in 2015 (Glasgow), 2016 (Poznan) and 2018 (Valencia), IFORS conferences in 2014 (Barcelona) and 2017 (Quebec), and the MODSIM conference in 2019 (Canberra). We are grateful to the participants of all these events for their feedback. The arguments developed in this paper have also profited immensely from discussions with colleagues attending the events organised by the EURO Working Group on Behavioural OR, and we are particularly indebted to Gilberto Montibeller and David Lane for their time and helpful comments during the 2nd Behavioural OR Summer School held in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The responsibility for presenting the arguments in this way is, however, entirely ours.
© 2021 The Authors
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