I am looking for (introductory) references on the empirical studies on the practice of OR.

I mean literature that looks at questions like:

  • Which methods are used in practice?
  • How do people interact with the optimization software?
  • What factors contribute to the acceptance of optimization software among employees?
  • What is the gap between theory and practice in the algorithms used?
  • How long is the same model used/useful?
  • What is the gap between the solutions output by OR-methods and the solutions implemented?

Maybe one could say all the OR-questions that don't revolve around the OR-methodology (i.e. modeling and solving the models). Or maybe one could say, literature on the things that happen before the modeling or after the development of the algorithm. If there is a book or a review paper, that would be ideal.

Does such literature exist?

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    $\begingroup$ Not a book or lit review but I think you can find the answer to several of your questions here: What are the main differences between Operations Research in the academic world, in the enterprise world and in the government world? $\endgroup$ – EhsanK Jul 11 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @EhsanK Thank you for that comment and reference to that question. While it is very useful, it doesn't provide scientific literature on the subject. $\endgroup$ – Luke599999 Jul 11 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ True but the answer to many of your questions (at least as far as I know) are more or less used-case specific. e.g. "how do ppl interact with optimization software? or what factors contribute to its acceptance?" just depend on where the software is used, organization culture, the quality of the software created, who are the stakeholders and their support. None of these factors are scientific (they are not quantitavely tested on lots of instances to see if they are in fact significant!) but they are real reasons among many others! $\endgroup$ – EhsanK Jul 11 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ I am sure, that you could formulate a number of hypotheses on these questions and then test if they hold up by looking at a large number of OR projects. I would consider that to be science. I don't know if anyone has done it before, and if so, where they put their results - hence the question. $\endgroup$ – Luke599999 Jul 11 at 15:45

Just about every article in Interfaces—now called INFORMS Journal on Applied Analytics—answers at least some of the questions you laid out. I have found these articles to be very valuable as a way to study how OR gets implemented in practice.

If you're asking for a sort of meta-study that looks at those questions in the aggregate, rather than for specific projects, I'm not sure if such a study exists, but maybe others can point you to one.

  • $\begingroup$ @larrysynder610 what's the nature of those articles ? is there sufficient technical details to reproduce the results ? $\endgroup$ – Hilbert Hotel Jul 11 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ They usually include the OR modeling formulations in an appendix and it is usually fairly rigorous. Whether that’s enough (and whether there are enough details of the experimental setups) I couldn’t say; I assume it varies a bit from paper to paper. $\endgroup$ – LarrySnyder610 Jul 11 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ As Larry said, there isn't a comprehensive reference on it but, Would you see commercial optimization software host or forum? Some of the states of art solvers such as Cplex, Gurobi, and ..., that have had a deal with the real-world optimization problem, have lots of article and case study which explain methods and tricks to encounter practical OR problems that you might find the answer of your mentioned questions. For instance: researcher.watson.ibm.com/researcher/… $\endgroup$ – abbas omidi Jul 11 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ @abbasomidi Seems like that should be a separate answer rather than a comment! :) $\endgroup$ – LarrySnyder610 Jul 11 at 19:22

Besides the cases published in Interfaces, I recommend taking a look at a series of articles entitled "The Fifth Column" by Gene Woolsey in Interfaces. While they may not exactly cover for what you are looking, they convey the ideas and opinions of a great OR practitioner over the course of almost 40 years.


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