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Operations research and ethics: development trends 1966–2009

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Abstract

The paper tracks development trends in the literature on operations research (OR) and ethics from Kenneth Boulding's vision in 1966 of OR as a tool for benevolent decision making, and up to today's constructive papers in this special issue of ITOR. Although this review does not intend to give a complete picture of the relevant literature, two main themes stand out clearly: “Guidelines for the practice of OR” and “How can OR be applied for good purpose?” The first issue is about ethical principles and the second about ethical consequences. Although there is a continued interest in guidelines, few OR societies follow up with their own guidelines, and only a limited number of papers report on the ethicality of real OR applications in relation to guidelines. On the other hand, there is an increasing interest in OR as a tool for benevolent decision making, as we can witness in this special issue of ITOR.

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