Operations research (OR) is a management function that draws extensively from the divisions of mathematics and science. It makes use of algorithms, statistics and numerous modeling techniques from mathematics to find the best possible solutions for complex problems. In OR, the maxima has to be optimized and the minima has to be reduced for all the objects involved. Maxima are usually the yield, performance and profit and minima are the losses and risks. There are many reasons to use OR.
1. OR could be very effective in handling issues of inventory planning and scheduling, production planning, transportation, financial and revenue management and risk management. Basically, OR could be used in any situation where improvements in the productivity of the business are of paramount importance.
2. With OR, organizations are greatly relieved from the burden of supervision of all the routine and mundane tasks. The problem areas are identified analytically and quantitatively. Tasks such as scheduling and replenishment of inventories benefit immensely from OR.
3. OR is used for analyzing problems of decision making in a superior fashion. The organization can decide on factors such as sequencing of jobs, production scheduling and replacements. Also the organization can take a call on whether or not to introduce new products or open new factories on the basis of a good OR plan.
4. Various departments in the organization can be coordinated well with suitable OR. This facilitates smooth functioning for the entire organization.
5. With OR, any organization follows a systematic approach for the conduct of its business. OR essentially emphasizes the use of computers in decision making; hence the chances of errors are minimum.
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Role of research in micro finance:
This paper is not being presented at the Rural Finance conference but it is a very useful introduction to the issues being considered. Researchers and development organisations have an uneasy relationship in the field of microfinance. The criticism aimed at research by the people who strive to promote microfinance (practitioners, support staff, decision-makers, donor agencies, etc.) is both commonplace and severe. Research in this area is said to be too slow, too expensive, disconnected from operational realities, incomprehensible in the way it presents its results, etc. The intention of this article is to try to re-establish dialogue between these two functions that play an essential role in developing the innovative approach that is known as microfinance. The article sets out to clarify: 1) the different forms of research with regard to microfinance and their various objectives; 2) the issues for discussion between researchers and practitioners; 3) the contribution of research to microfinance. The authors' note that there is no single form of research.
• Basic research is the production and organisation of knowledge around a theoretical corpus. In order to achieve this aim it has to produce general explanatory models, evaluation rules that may be universally applied and it must also focus on abstraction and simplification. Basic research is carried out mainly in universities. • Academic research highlights the institutional background of the “researchers” (academics, scientists for whom research activity is their prime function) and it normally stands in opposition to the forms of research carried out by practitioners. This form of research obeys the criteria of basic research, but may also integrate some elements of so-called applied research. • Applied research presents a contextual and operational vision: its aim is to describe and to analyse particular situations and to infer...