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Syst Pract Action Res (2011) 24:379–395 DOI 10.1007/s11213-010-9189-x ORIGINAL PAPER

Management Sciences/Operational Research Units in Business and Management Courses in the UK Alberto Paucar-Caceres • Rosane Pagano

Published online: 17 December 2010 Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Abstract The paper reviews the development of management science/operational Research (MS/OR) in management education and explore how far the syllabuses of undergraduate business courses and MBA courses in the UK, are giving space to the teaching of management sciences methodologies (MSM). The academic phase of early MS/OR is outlined and a time-based framework to map the evolution of four MS/OR discourses informing a set of MSMs currently in use is advanced. At an undergraduate level the review is based on a sample taken from Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS) of business and management studies degrees and at a postgraduate level the review considers a sample of MBA programmes offered by six UK universities. Results indicate that most of the MBA courses include a core unit in quantitative methods in the first year and that universities are still at large teaching the ‘hard’ end of the MSM spectrum, the type of problem solving methods developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Business courses incorporating units containing systemic thinking and management sciences methodologies developed from the 1970s to now (e.g.: soft systems methodology, viable systems model, cognitive mapping), are rarely taught at undergraduate (UG) level; and at post-graduate (PG) level they have been confined to a handful of institutions in the UK. The paper highlights the fact that MSMs associated with the soft and critical end of the spectrum are still lacking of credibility amongst the designers of management education at both undergraduate and graduate management education. Conclusions from the survey results are drawn and an agenda for further research is proposed. Keywords...