Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
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Loughborough University

School of Business and Economics


Visual Decision Practices Research Interest Group (VDP - RIG)

Leader: Dr Nicola Bateman, Senior Lecturer in Operations Management

  • About us
  • Members
  • Publications
  • Grants and awards
  • Activities

The overall purpose of the Visual Decision Practices Research Interest Group (VDP-RIG) is to study the visual tools that organisations use to perform their decision making practices.

Within and across organisations, visual tools are being increasingly adopted by managers, policy makers and teams to inform their decision making, from simple 2x2 matrices built with post it notes on flipcharts, to sophisticated computer-aided designs and simulation models. Many of these tools have been developed by academics or consultants, and their adoption is commonly linked to specific methodologies (e.g., SWOT analysis, Six Sigma, Scenario Planning, Decision Analysis, Group Model Building) deployed within particular organisational settings (e.g., workshops, meetings).

While published studies on visual tools have mainly assessed the adoption rates of particular tools, research on how they are used in practice have only started to attract academic attention. The VDP RIG will thus explore this under-researched aspect of visual decision practices by drawing on its collective multi-disciplinary expertise (operations management, organisational behaviour, problem structuring, simulation) with a view to assess the extent to which current and new visual tools are delivering their expected value. Specifically, the VDP-RIG will undertake empirical research to:

(1) assess the status of visual decision practices in organisations, and their use;

(2) assess the impact of current and emergent visual tools within their context of use, and identify areas for improvement; and,  

(3) design effective visual decision practices.

Current and recent research projects have encompassed the following themes:

  • The use of models as boundary objects in cross-disciplinary problem-solving collaboration
  • The visual dynamics of knowledge production in strategy workshops
  • Managing operations and teams visually
  • The generation of insights from the use of visual simulation models
  • The role of objects in building design innovation

Academic Members:


Associate Members:

  • Donna Champion Cranfield University
  • Alice Comi, University of Reading
  • Martin Eppler, University of St Gallen
  • Lise Justesen, University of Copenhagen
  • Isabella Lami, Politecnico di Torino
  • Mie Femo Nielsen, University of Copenhagen
  • Thanos Papadopoulos, University of Sussex
  • Sotirios Paroutis, University of Warwick
  • Marshall Scott Poole, University of Illinois

Papers in refereed journals

Champion, D. (2007) Managing Action Research: The PEArL Framework. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 20, 455-465.

Champion, D., Stowell, FA & O’Callaghan, A. (2005). Client-Led Information Systems Creation (CLIC): Navigating the Gap. Information Systems Journal, 15, 213-231.

Paroutis, S., Franco, L.A., & Papadopoulos, T. (2014). Visual interactions with strategy tools: Producing strategic knowledge in workshops British Journal of Management(in press).

Tavella, E., & Franco, L.A. (2014). Dynamics of group knowledge production in facilitated modelling workshops: An exploratory study. Group Decision and Negotiation (in press).

Franco, L.A. (2013). Rethinking Soft OR Interventions: Models as boundary objects. European Journal of Operational Research, 231, 720-733.

Franco, L.A., Meadows, M. & Armstrong, SJ. (2013). Exploring the Impact of Individual Differences in Scenario Planning Workshops: A cognitive style perspective. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80, 723-734.

Franco, L.A. & Rouwette, EAJA. (2011). Decision Development in Facilitated Modelling Workshops. European Journal of Operational Research, 212, 164-178.

Robinson, S., Worthington, C., Burgess, N. and Radnor, Z.J. (2014).  Facilitated Modelling with Discrete-Event Simulation: Reality or Myth? European Journal of Operational Research, forthcoming. doi: 10.1016/j.ejor.2012.12.024

Robinson, S., Lee, E.P.K. and Edwards, J.S. (2012). Simulation Based Knowledge Elicitation:Effect of Visual Representation and Model Parameters.Expert Systems with Applications, 39, 8479–8489. DOI: 10.1016/j.eswa.2012.01.170

Sage, D., Sircar, I, Dainty, A, Fussey, P, Goodier, C (in press) Understanding and Enhancing Future Infrastructure Resiliency: A Socio-Ecological Approach, Disasters: The Journal of Disaster Studies, Policy and Management

Sage, D. (2013) 'Danger building site-keep out!?': A critical agenda for geographical engagement with contemporary construction industries, Social and Cultural Geography, 14(2), pp.168-191.

Schmidt, R, Sage, D., Eguchi, T, Dainty, A (2012) Moving architecture and flattening politics: Examining adaptability through a narrative of design, Architectural Research Quarterly, 16(1), pp.75-84.

Sage, D. and Dainty, ARJ (2012) Understanding power within project work: The neglected role of material and embodied registers, Engineering Project Organization Journal, 2(4), pp.202-215.

Kotiadis K, Tako A.A. and Vasilakis C. (2013) A participative and facilitative conceptual modelling for discrete event simulation studies in health care. Journal of the Operational Research Society,  doi:10.1057/jors.2012.176.

Kotiadis, K, Tako, A.A., Rouwette E, Vasilakis, C, Brennan J, Gandhi P, Wegstapel H, Sagias F and Webb P. (2013) Using a model of the performance measures in Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) to take action: a case study in health care”, Journal of the Operational Research Society, 64, 125-137.


Book chapters

Bateman, N.A. (2013). Managing operations and teams visually. In Bell, E. Warren, S. & Schroeder, J.E. (Eds.) Routledge Companion to the Visual Organisation. Taylor & Francis.


Conference proceedings

Bateman, N.A., Philp, L, Warrender, H (2011) Visual management and shopfloor teams - linking action to strategy. In EurOMA Conference, Conference Proceedings, Cambridge, UK, ISBN: 978-1-902546-93-3. 


Papers in preparation and/or under review

Bateman N.A., Warrender H, Philp L "Visual management and shopfloor teams – development, implementation and use" (under review).

Sage, D., Tryggestad, K. Dainty, A. Justesen, L. and Mourtisen, J. On the political ecologies of environmental impact assessment tools in construction management (in preparation, invited submission for Special Issue).

Tako, A.A. and Kotiadis K. “Partisim: A framework for participative and facilitated simulation modelling” (in preparation).

Donna Champion:

Recent completed project where the development of new tools to support the development of systems engineering capability and practices were a central aspect:

  • Embedding Systems Engineering across Jaguar Land Rover; Principal Investigator; £40,000: funded by Jaguar Land Rover

L. Alberto Franco:

  • Banxia Prize for the Best Paper presented in the Problem Structuring Methods Stream at the 55th Conference of the Operational Research Society, Exeter, July 3rd - 5th 2013. Paper title: "Dynamics of Facilitated Modelling" (with Elena Tavella)

Dan Sage:

Past projects where ‘the visual’ has been central both to the framing of the research problem and its examination:

  • Resilient Futures; Research Associate; £1.4 million: funded by ESPRC/EPSRC
  • The Role of Objects in Building Design Innovation; Research Associate; £65,000: funded by IMCRC-EPSRC
  • Understanding Project Failure; Research Associate; £250,000: funded by IMCRC-EPSRC

Antuela Tako:

  • £3,000 from Simul8 to sponsor PhD student Anastasia Gogi’s doctoral research  

Impact generation

  • Donna Champion: Application of PEArL framework as a visual tool to support:
    • The development of new practices for key workers in Leicestershire homeless shelters
    • New practices and approaches to chemical labelling in response to new legislation for the British Association of Chemical Specialists
    • The development of new functional safety governance structures and practices at Jaguar land Rover


Seminars and networking

The VDP-RIGs meets once a month during term time. There is no fixed format for the meetings and these can be data-driven, discussions of papers or general discussion on a nominated topic. Some of the meetings are open to staff, PhD students and external visitors with interests in any and all theoretical and methodological aspects of visual decision practices.

To attend an open meeting, email the VDP-RIG Leader, L. Alberto Franco (l.a.franco@lboro.ac.uk).

Timetable of VDP-RIG meetings for Winter/Spring 2015:




Meeting leader

28 January


SBE: Room BE0.25a


Alice Comi (Reading University)

4 February


SBE: Room BE2.50

Management accounting in a lean operations environment:  Resolving the illusion of management control through organised dissonance?

Will Seal and Nicola Bateman 

22 April 




20 May  11am–1pm  TBC TBC

Past meetings and workshops (2014):




Meeting leader

15 January

SBE: Room BE0.41

Simulation-based knowledge elicitation

Stewart Robinson

11 February

SBE: Room BE0.25a

Use of communications board for team decision making current and future practice 

Nicola Bateman

20 March

SBE: Room BE0.25a

Is the God’s eye view from above and afar a masculine way of understanding the world?

Daniel Sage

23 April

SBE: Room BE0.25a

A systemic approach to visual methodology

Donna Champion

13-14 May

8am - 6pm SBE: Room BE 0.63

International Workshop on Visual Decision Practices

L. Alberto Franco

4 June

SBE: Room BE0.25a

Exploring the effectiveness of visual features of simulation models in creative problem solving (see ‘video snapshot’ of a simulation model:http://screencast.com/t/8iN6QKkjkw)

Anastasia Gogi

3 December

SBE: Room BE0.41

The materiality of mathematics: Presenting mathematics at the blackboard

Christian Greiffenhagen (Social Studies)



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