Operational or Operations Research?

Some of my research is carried out in the area of Operations Research. This term is actually the American version. The English version is Operational Research and (although being biased), I believe that this is the correct version, bearing in mind that Operational Research was founded in England (around the time of the Second World War).

You will find the distinction between these two terms no more apparent than in the naming of academic journals. The oldest OR journal in the world is called Journal of the Operational Research Society (JORS). Another journal is called European Journal of Operational Research (EJOR) .
The journals published in America have titles such as Operations Research.

3 thoughts on “Operational or Operations Research?”

  1. I think it's interesting that the argument is surrounding the O rather than the R. I can personally say that I'm not that bothered about "Operations" or "Operational", but as a practitioner, "Research" is a rather inconvenient term, especially when emerging from your education, trying to sell yourself in the business rather than the academic world.

  2. Very true. I think the "second" word does carry more of the message.

    Perhaps, in your case, "Management Science" would be more appropriate?

  3. You're right, but there are other complicating factors at play. For one, there is the exact text of one's degree that cannot be changed. Also, if limited, is the established brand of OR that I would hesitate to shake off.

    I think the definition of terms in the world of what I'll broadly call Management Ideas is a particularly difficult problem. The basis of the problem is no different from trying to pin down words in any cultural environment, but I think it is exacerbated by the necessary sales actions of practitioners.

    I've seen it myself. It's much easier to sell Operations Research projects delivering results in a hospital than it is to admit that analyzing queues, schedules, and processes is nothing more than scientific management. (Yes I am aware that there is TRUE OR done in hospitals).

    I'm still working on my theories about the Management Ideas ecosystem, but professionals and consultants seem to gravitate towards Capital Letters. It helps the sale and allows them to build a mysticism around their discipline (i.e. Lean).

    I imagine someone has written more intelligently than I on this issue. I would like to find such an article.

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