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May 06, 2011

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Jim Orlin

My visceral reaction is that I don't like papers that purport to tell others in the field what they should value as research. But, I also see some important points raised by the paper. Here is an oversimplification of the points that I wish to emphasize.

1. OM researchers are good at some things and not so good at others. They are good at research on the effective use of existing technologies in operations. They are not so good at anticipating changes in technology and determining future effects. The field of OM should welcome research on the parts of OM that it is not currently good at.

2. To assess impacts of future technological change, it is very valuable (and sometimes critical) to understand the processes by which technological change occurs.

3. The metrics for assessing successful research on future technologies is different than the metrics for assessing research on current technologies. OM researchers need to appreciate the differences.

Finally, here is a recommendation that is not in the paper, but perhaps deserves to be considered. OM researchers should consider collaborating with engineers who are designing new operational capabilities. This enriches the design engineering because it uses well analyzed potential impacts on practice. This enriches the OM research because it is firmly anchored in technologies that are being actively considered and are possible, and possibly leads to especially useful design specifications.

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