MANAGEMT 7047 - Judgement Based Decision Making

North Terrace Campus - Summer - 2018

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an advanced understanding of the principles and methods of Judgement based Decision Making and Soft Operations Research (Soft OR), the necessary understanding to commission or participate in Soft OR studies with an appreciation of the strengths and limitations of the approach and supporting methodologies and to explore the application of Soft OR approaches to problem structuring and analysis of complex human activity systems (HAS) in support of decision making.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code MANAGEMT 7047
    Course Judgement Based Decision Making
    Coordinating Unit Business School
    Term Summer
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per day over 2 weeks
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Restrictions Restricted to MBA students only
    Course Description The purpose of this course is to provide students with an advanced understanding of the principles and methods of Judgement based Decision Making and Soft Operations Research (Soft OR), the necessary understanding to commission or participate in Soft OR studies with an appreciation of the strengths and limitations of the approach and supporting methodologies and to explore the application of Soft OR approaches to problem structuring and analysis of complex human activity systems (HAS) in support of decision making.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Wayne Hobbs

    Contact Details
    Dr Wayne Hobbs
    The University of Adelaide Business School
    Room 927, Level 9, 10 Pulteney Street
    The University of Adelaide
    South Australia 5005


    Wayne graduated from the Flinders University of South Australia with a PhD in Environmental Chemistry in 1994. While studying at Flinders he taught Chemistry (Lecturer Level A) and served six years in the Army Reserves (Infantry Section Commander). Late in 1994 he joined the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and over the next twenty years supported a variety of Defence and National Security projects (e.g. Soldier Modernisation, Asymmetric Warfare and Counter Terrorism). During this time, Wayne developed a range of skills in Systems Analysis, Strategic Planning and Operations Research (OR). In 2006 he was promoted to head up the Strategy and Capability Integration Group providing decision support to Defence’s Strategy Executive. From 2008 to 2010 he was the DSTO Operations Research Hub Leader and in 2009 was appointed Head of the DSTO National Security Program. Along the way he explored the application of Soft OR methods to International Relations (graduating with a Masters in International Studies from Adelaide University in 2010), and taught scenario based planning at the Australian Command and Staff College. In 2015 he returned to full time study and obtained a Graduate Diploma in Education. He currently teaches at Eynesbury College (senior Chemistry) and Adelaide University (UPP Science) and is a visiting research fellow in the Adelaide University Business School. His research interests include Scenario Based Planning and application of critical thinking approaches in education.
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On completion of the course, students will be able to:

    1. Apply an advanced understanding of the principles of Soft OR, including respective terms and definitions, to the design and implementation of a Soft OR study.
    2. Identify and select an appropriate methodology for addressing a complex problem; with a focus on problem structuring/understanding and decision support.
    3. Demonstrate skills in the implementation of Soft OR methods including use of formal techniques in the facilitation of workshops
    4. Communicate the results of their study in a professionally and academically relevant form.
    5. Evaluate the appropriateness of a particular methodology and its outcomes for addressing specific complex problems.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 2, 5
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2, 3, 5
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    3, 4
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    1, 2, 3, 4
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    1, 5
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    3, 4
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    Access to internet and specified reading materials such as the NATO Guide for Judgement-Based Operational Analysis in Defence Decision Making.

    Recommended Resources

    Reading lists, web-links, library resources, essay writing guides, study guides, referencing, computing laboratories, IT support, printing quotas, use of TURNITIN as an educational tool. A reading list will be provided prior to the start of the course.

    Online Learning

    Online resources will be available through an appropriate learning portal during the course. Lectures will be recorded and additional pod-casts and other resources provided where appropriate.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    Lecture: Seminars will include a formal presentation to deliver new information relating to the formal methodologies and techniques relevant to Soft OR and Judgement Based Decision Making. Specific approaches covered will include Soft Systems Methodology, Scenario Based Planning, ACTIFELD, influence diagrams and mixed and multi-methodology approaches. Lectures will discuss the techniques and consider issues of suitability, planning and implementation.

    Workshop: Based on information provided in lectures students will engage in workshop activities to practice and explore the relevance of the approaches to specific problems and contexts. This will provide students with a broad overview of techniques that can be applied in their own case study (team assignment).

    Research: Based on lectures and workshops students will explore relevant literature pertaining to the implementation of approaches covered. This personal study will provide the basis for discussion during seminars/workshops as well as support the selection of techniques for the team assignment.

    Team Assignment: The assignment will require students to work in a team to plan and implement a decision support study utilising the principles of Soft OR. Students will need to provide an initial study plan and final written report in addition to an oral presentation.

    Students will be required to engage in a high degree of independent learning throughout the course exploring a broader range of Soft OR approaches and studies than those formally presented during lectures. This independent learning will be assessed through individual contributions to seminar/workshop sessions. In addition, the assignment provides an opportunity for enquiry based learning as students identify techniques relevant to their chosen problem and consider issues associated with implementation. The course fundamentally draws on the background and experiences of students and seeks to integrate the new knowledge into existing normative views. In this way student learning is enhanced as they contribute their own knowledge to the course content and draw on each-others experiences.  


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Attendance at all session during the two weeks of the summer school is compulsory. Private study/reading time between formal sessions will be required to meet expectations in regards to preparation for future sessions, a resource analysis and conduct of the team project. A deadline for preparation of the final report is set roughly two weeks after completion of the formal seminars.  

    Learning Activities Summary

    Students’ learning will predominantly result from participation in discussions during seminar/workshop activities. In addition students will demonstrate learning of the required concepts through contributions to an individual or team based project, including a presentation and report. Students will be responsible for managing their time and work-flow, both individually and as a group.


    Contribution to workshops

    Resource Analysis (presentation)

    Study Plan

    Study report

    Study presentation

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Word Count/Time Weighting Learning Outcome
    Contribution to workshops Individual

    36 hours

    10% 1,2,3
    Resource Analysis (presentation) Individual 5min 20% 2,4,5
    Study Plan Team/Individual 500 words 10% 2,4
    Study report Individual 3000 words 50% 2,4
    Study presentation Team/Individual 30min 10% 4,5
    Assessment Detail

    Contribution to workshops:

    Seminar/workshop sessions will include practice in the application of soft OR approaches and other workshop facilitation techniques. These activities will produce outputs that will be considered as part of the ‘contribution’ assessment.

    Resource Analysis:

    Different approaches to Soft OR will be presented and discussed during the seminars/workshops. However, these will only scratch the surface of the range of techniques and resources available to support analysts and decision makers in this field. Students will be required to conduct some personal research to identify and critically analyse one of these resources and share their findings with other students (5 min presentation).

    Study Plan:

    Students will be required to identify an issue or challenge as the focus for a research activity. A 500 word study plan is required by Day 4 outlining;

    • The general problem being addressed

    • Relevant stakeholders identified

    • The proposed methodology, and

    • Study schedule

    The selection of the proposed methodology should be supported by appropriate literature.

    Research Report

    Students will be required to implement their study plan and report on their activities and outcomes. The report must follow normal academic and scholarly conventions and be no more than 3000 words in length. Reports are to be written and submitted individually. A rubric outlining the report requirements will be provided to students as well as a report (Journal Style) template.


    Research Presentation

    Presentations will be made to peers during Day 6 of the course. Each presentation will be no more than 30 minutes including time for questions. A suitable electronic slide show (e.g. power-point) should be prepared in support of the presentation.



    Study plans are to be submitted in printed form to the lecturer at the start of Day 4 of the course. The due date for final reports is 26 January 2018. Reports are to be submitted via Turnitin.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.