I'm teaching an OR/MS course to working professionals in an MBA program. To give you an idea of where I'm coming from, here's how I described my goals the last time I taught the same course.

The goal of this course is to train managers to: 1. Recognize actual decision scenarios amenable to a Management Science-based solution, 2. Prove out conceptual solution approaches on a typical office desktop computer, and 3. evaluate and manage the extension of desktop models into an “industrial strength” IT implementation.

As you can see, this is not a hard-core technical dump for engineers or aspiring PhDs. Since the students are usually experienced in the workforce, and come from a variety of backgrounds, the appropriate focus is on business, not technology.

After an exhaustive (and exhausting) process of evaluation, I ended up selecting Sam Savage's Decision Making with Insight. The experience was, in the whole, a good one. So I wouldn't mind repeating the course with the same text. (I use a great deal of supplementary material collected over my 20+ years of practicing OR.)

However, it strikes me that I have an opportunity to kick it up a notch: to make the course more insightful, stickier, and more suitable to junior executives. I'm thinking specifically of adding more realistic examples, some solid case studies, creating opportunities for team-oriented exercises, demonstrating transparent connections with the business of business, and so on.

My question is pretty open: is anyone aware of extra-ordinarily successful material (it could be a text, or something more full-featured) or experiences teaching OR/MS to business-folk?

asked 24 Feb '12, 14:21

SanjaySaigal's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

Probably not what you are looking for, but a few selected Edelman competition presentations might be good for one/two class(es), for demonstrating the applicability and power or OR/MS based solutions. I don't have a reference, but I have heard that a few profs. have used this in business school as case studies. One comment I heard is that, these presentations are most effective when accompanied by (or followed by) a few exercise questions, triggering thoughts and/or discussions, rather than passive viewing.


answered 25 Feb '12, 17:58

Samik%20R.'s gravatar image

Samik R.
accept rate: 2%

Samik, thanks for the pointer. The Edelman presentations often encode what I think of as an "OR-out" rather than a "business-in" perspective. I'll take another look; it's been a while.

(25 Feb '12, 21:24) SanjaySaigal
  1. I think two of the best sources for OR success stories are Interfaces and OR Insight. Selecting appropriate papers from these two journals would help students with learning more about the practical side of the OR.

  2. OR promotional websites such as Science of Better, OR Champion, or Learn about OR could provide students with practical tips.

  3. Regarding selection of a textbook, I think that would be a more personal choice (what areas in OR are covered). Here's some of the few options available. Personally, I prefer and use choice b because of its content, case studies, and the extensive support material offered by the publisher. In addition, the content is similar to the famous Introduction to Operations Research, which I use for math-oriented OR courses, in case I need to cover something technically.

    a) An Introduction to Management Science: Quantitative Approaches to Decision Making

    b) Introduction to Management Science: A Modeling and Case Studies Approach with Spreadsheets

    c) Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis: A Practical Introduction to Management Science

    d) Management Science: The Art of Modeling with Spreadsheets


answered 26 Feb '12, 01:40

Ehsan's gravatar image

Ehsan ♦
accept rate: 16%

edited 28 Feb '12, 04:19

fbahr's gravatar image

fbahr ♦

Ehsan, thanks. I'll take another look at (b). It's been a while. But your response, and well as Samik's above, suggests that my original question is not as clear as it should be. (Or perhaps, that it's misdirected.)

(02 Mar '12, 22:19) SanjaySaigal

FWIW, Wayne Winston teaches (or used to teach -- my info may be dated) the core quant methods class in the Indiana University MBA program. The rumor mill said it was one of the most popular classes in their core, which is quite an achievement for a QM course. I don't know what the experience level of their students would be, but it might be worth asking Wayne if he has any tips.


answered 27 Feb '12, 19:48

Paul%20Rubin's gravatar image

Paul Rubin ♦♦
accept rate: 19%

Paul - That is indeed an amazing achievement! Thanks.

(02 Mar '12, 22:19) SanjaySaigal
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Asked: 24 Feb '12, 14:21

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Last updated: 03 Mar '12, 03:53

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