This announcement is for a special issue of the European Journal of Operational Research (EJOR), to be co-edited by Michael Johnson, member of the Boston node of URBAN, and his UK colleague Gerald Midgley. Gerald has more than 20 years research experience in community-engaged applications of operations research/management science; Michael has more recently adapted UK notions of community OR to the American OR context. They have each edited books on Community OR that have consolidated and promoted the field on their own sides of the Atlantic (Midgley and Ochoa-Arias, 2004; Johnson, 2012). Their collaboration on editing this special issue marks a desire, not only to share learning across the USA and Europe, but also to form a truly global research community, showcasing a wide range of international innovations and applications.
Operational Research (OR) practitioners have had an interest in supporting community development for almost half a century – well before the term ‘community operational research’ was first coined in the mid-1980s. While the initial focus in the 80s was OR serving community groups (grass-roots citizen movements), it quickly became evident that communities often wanted to address highly complex social and environmental issues that required the involvement of public, private and voluntary sector organizations too. Indeed, projects were often initiated and funded by these organizations. Nevertheless, the defining feature of Community OR remained the meaningful engagement of communities and concerned citizens.
Community OR is now at an exciting point in its development, with the potential for major innovations. This is because of a renewed interest in both Europe and the USA, which coincides with growing activity in pro-bono (volunteer) OR and a diversification of applications in developing countries. In addition, the increasing importance of environmental issues to local and global communities offers new opportunities to support those communities in making a difference. Finally, new approaches to data analytics offer the potential for innovation but also bring with them a significant challenge: how to ‘democratize’ their use so communities, and not just large public and private sector organizations, can directly benefit. These are the contexts in which we call for papers for a special issue of European Journal of Operational Research (EJOR) on Community OR, focused on innovations, internationalization and agenda-setting applications.
Submissions to this special issue may be on any area of the theory, methodology and application of Community OR, using any relevant methods, and working with any kinds of organization – as long as the needs and involvement of communities and citizens remain central. The editors welcome papers that reflect on how to address the concerns of disadvantaged or marginalized communities, and we are especially interested in papers that are able to ground their analyses in examples of Community OR practice. The projects reported may represent the localized concerns of communities, but the theories, methodologies, methods and solutions developed to understand and address those concerns should have the potential to inform scholarship and practice around the world.
The special issue editors welcome proposals of 1-2 pages by 30 October 2015, and those writing the most compelling proposals will be invited to work them up into full papers. Manuscripts will be expected by 31 July 2016. All submissions will need to conform to the usual requirements of EJOR and will be peer reviewed as normal. We plan for the special issue to be finalized by early 2017. Please direct inquiries to Michael Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gerald Midgley (G.R.Midgley@hull.ac.uk).
Johnson M (ed.) (2012). Community-Based Operations Research: Decision Modeling for Local Impact and Diverse Populations. Springer, Boston MA.
Midgley G and Ochoa-Arias AE (eds.) (2004). Community Operational Research: OR and Systems Thinking for Community Development. Kluwer, New York.