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Hardy, Ben and Stiles, Philip (2020) 'How Do We Know Anything? Philosophical Issues in the Collection and Interpretation of Operational Research Data.' In: White, Leroy, Martin, Kunc, Katharina, Burger and Jonathan, Malpass, (eds.), Behavioral Operational Research: A Capabilities Approach. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 341-360.

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Measurement is a fundamental activity of science, but if we fail to make allowances for imponderables then we are simply generating data which may not, necessarily, tell us anything about the world. This chapter examines some of the philosophical underpinnings of Behavioral Operational Research by addressing three different levels of assumption. The first level is about the state of the world—what is actually out there. The second is about our ability to apprehend this—how we can actually know things and the limitations of the tools we have for investigating the world. The third level concerns knowledge and how we know things. This may seem abstract and esoteric, but it has fundamental implications for Operational Research. The philosophical assumptions underpinning the measurement of customer service, for example, may lead to very different conclusions about how customer service should be managed. It is only by exploring the philosophical underpinnings of our measurement that we can ensure that we measure things properly.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Finance & Management
ISBN: 9783030254056
Copyright Statement: © The Author(s) 2020. This is the accepted manuscript of a chapter published by Palgrave Macmillan in Behavioral Operational Research, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 09:57

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