28-30 June 2010                                St Anne’s College, OxfordUK



In a world that is increasingly riven by conflict, often involving emergent non-state factions in rapidly changing patterns of inter-relationship, the need for rigorous conflict analysis is more pressing than ever.  However, to be robust and insightful, such analysis must be informed by the wide range of disciplines - including mathematics and decision sciences, diplomacy and international relations, peace and war studies, anthropology and psychology, military and political science, linguistics and communication studies - whose scholars presently engage with the topic of confrontation.  This conference, the 4th in an established and successful series hosted by the IMA will, like its predecessors, provide a forum for sharing the latest thinking in these disparate fields and for building multidisciplinary links between conflict researchers.   

The theme of the present conference is the process of conflict transformation.  When conflict analysts focus upon specific episodes within what are usually protracted and complex networks of interaction, they may easily lose sight of relevant issues in the spatial, temporal or causal environment.  Furthermore the processes by which confrontation may transform into collaboration, or co-operation may degenerate into conflict, are central both to conflict escalation and conflict resolution.  The conference will therefore be concerned with the dynamics of conflict processes and will include wide-ranging interpretations and explorations of this theme. 

There is a secondary emphasis.  Rather than separating the analytical activity from its 'real world' impact there is a preference that those contributing to this event should demonstrate attention to the actions that their work informs. The means by which this is achieved may range from facilitating workshops or running simulations to experimentation and interactive modelling, and presentations may describe such activities.      

This is an international event and will attract contributors from many countries. The conference is intended as a meeting place for those who operate directly in arenas of conflict (e.g. the military, staff of NGOs, mediators), those who provide support or advice (e.g. analysts, contractors, counsellors) and others who offer theoretical concepts and practical frameworks for handling conflict (e.g. academic researchers).



Topics include:

  • Conflict: concepts and theory
  • Modelling and analysing conflict
  • Group decision and negotiation
  • Processes of confrontation and collaboration
  • Conflict resolution and peace-building
  • Collective action addressing conflictual issues
  • Simulation and role play
  • Evaluation and assessment
  • Information architectures and technologies
  • Specific conflicts


Scientific Committee:

·         Dr Amer Obeidi (University of WaterlooCanada)

·         Gordon Burt (Open UniversityUK)

·         Mary Cranell (Idea Sciences, Washington DC)

·         Dr Orit Gal (Chatham House, London)

·         Dr Deborah Goodwin (RMA, Sandhurst)

·         Dr Jason Levy (Virginia Commonwealth UniversityUSA)

·         Prof Hugh Miall (University of KentUK)

·         Andy Pickup (DstlUK)

·         Dr Suman Sensarma (The Louis Berger Group, India)

·         Dr Russ Vane III (IBM, USA)


Organising Committee:

·         Prof Jim Bryant (Sheffield Business SchoolUK) (Conference Chair)

·         Colin Irwin (DstlUK)

·         Prof Marc Kilgour (Wilfrid Laurier UniversityCanada)


Further information about the conference venue can be found at:


Call for papers:

Abstracts should be submitted online at or emailed to the conference officer:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Closing date for Abstracts: 8th January 2010
Notification of Acceptance: 15th February 2010



Scientific enquiries should be made to:

Prof Jim Bryant (email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Sheffield Business School, City Campus, SheffieldS1 1WBU.K.

General enquiries concerning conference arrangements should be sent to:

Amy Marsh (email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, Catherine Richards House, 16 Nelson Street, Southend-on-Sea,EssexSS1 1EFU.K. Tel: +44 (0)1702 354020




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Abstract of "Role playing: A method to forecast decisions," J. Scott Armstrong, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Role playing can be used to forecast decisions, such as “how will our competitors respond if we lower our prices?” In role playing, an administrator asks people to play roles and uses their “decisions” as forecasts. Such an exercise can produce a realistic simulation of the interactions among conflicting groups. The role play should match the actual situation in key respects, such as the role-players should be somewhat similar to those being represented in the actual situations, and role-players should read instructions for their roles before reading about the situation. Role playing is most effective for predictions when two conflicting parties respond to large changes. A review of the evidence showed that role playing was effective in matching results for seven of eight experiments. In five actual situations, role playing was correct for 56 percent of 143 predictions, while unaided expert opinions were correct for 16 percent of 172 predictions. Role-playing has also been used successfully to forecast outcomes in three studies. Successful uses of role playing have been claimed in the military, law, and business.

Keywords: analogies, conflict situations, decision-making, experiments, expert opinions, game theory, intentions.

Forecasting decisions in conflicts is a common problem (but not always recognized as such), so there are a variety of conferences that are potentially relevant.

Forthcoming conferences

Previous Conferences

  • IACM Conference 2007, Budapest, Hungary, June 24- 27, 2007. See call for abstracts.
  • The 27th International Symposium on Forecasting , New York, USA, Site: Marriott Marquis, Times Square, June 24-27, 2007. See call for abstracts.
  • Society for Judgment and Decision Making's annual conference, Houston, TX, November 18-20, 2006. See call for abstracts.
  • Transforming the Cold War: The U.S. and China, 1969-1980, Washington, DC, September 25-27, 2006. See call for abstracts.

Conflict Resolution Center International: Calendar of Events

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The material for this Special Interest Group is organized and submitted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – Please contact him for further information, and corrections, additions, or suggestions for these pages

Abstract of "Expert Opinions in forecasting: Role of the Delphi technique," Gene Rowe, Institute of Food Research & George Wright, University of Strathclyde

Expert opinion is often necessary in forecasting tasks because of a lack of appropriate or available information for using statistical procedures. But how does one get the best forecast from experts? One solution is to use a structured group technique, such as Delphi, for eliciting and combining expert judgments. In using the Delphi technique, one controls the exchange of information between anonymous panelists over a number of rounds (iterations), taking the average of the estimates on the final round as the group judgment. A number of principles are developed here to indicate how to conduct structured groups to obtain good expert judgments. These principles, applied to the conduct of Delphi groups, indicate how many and what type of experts to use (five to 20 experts with disparate domain knowledge); how many rounds to use (generally two or three); what type of feedback to employ (average estimates plus justifications from each expert); how to summarize the final forecast (weight all experts’ estimates equally); how to word questions (in a balanced way with succinct definitions free of emotive terms and irrelevant information); and what response modes to use (frequencies rather than probabilities or odds, with coherence checks when feasible). Delphi groups are substantially more accurate than individual experts and traditional groups, and somewhat more accurate than statistical groups (which are made up of non-interacting individuals whose judgments are aggregated). Studies support the advantage of Delphi groups over traditional groups by five to one with one tie, and their advantage over statistical groups by 12 to two with two ties. We anticipate that by following these principles, forecasters may be able to use structured groups to harness effectively expert opinion.

Use these quick links to jump to the relevant section of this page:
For Practitioners
For Researchers
For Educators

For Practitioners

Individuals and Organizations providing help, advice, or data


Conflict Management and Negotiation

Judgment and Decision Making


Politics and War

Terrorism Forecasting Resources

Game Theory and Experimental Economics

Influential Books and Lists of Books That May be Useful


Conflict Management

Judgment and Decision Making

  • Cambridge University Press catalogue, put "decision making" in the "Series" field
  • Harold A. Linsone and Murray Turoff (eds), The Delphi Method: Techniques and Applications, 1975. A full-text pdf version is available on-line.



Game Theory and Experimental Economics

Tools and software (under development)

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For Researchers

  • Need for further research

Considering the frequency and cost of inaccurate forecasts, there has been remarkably little research comparing methods for forecasting decisions in conflicts. Research along the following lines is needed:

  • determine the conditions that favour different methods
  • replicate previous research
  • forecast conflicts that are unresolved at the time of forecasting
  • examine the effect of the number of decision options on accuracy
  • investigate forecasting conflicts in stages
  • investigate the effect of variations in descriptions.
  • Politics and War research
  • Conflict descriptions

The ten diverse conflicts described below have been used in research on forecasting decisions in conflicts. They are all conflicts that actually occurred – all but two were disguised in their descriptions in order to avoid research participants identifying them. Five were written by Scott Armstrong and colleagues. They are: Artists Protest, Distribution Channel, 55% Pay Plan, Journal Negotiations, and Panalba Drug Policy. More recently, Kesten Green wrote Nurses Dispute, Personal Grievance, Telco Takeover, Water Dispute, and Zenith Investment.

You may be surprised at the length of the situation and role descriptions. The ten complex conflicts have mostly each been described on a single page and roles each described in a short paragraph. Descriptions include questionnaires intended for game theorist participants.

  • Artists Protest: Members of a rich nation’s artists’ union occupied a major gallery and demanded generous financial support from their government. What will be the final resolution of the artists’ sit-in?

  • Distribution Channel: An appliance manufacturer proposed to a supermarket chain a novel arrangement for retailing their wares. Will the management of the supermarket chain agree to the plan?

  • 55% Pay Plan: Professional sports players demanded a 55 percent share of gross revenues and threatened to go on strike if the owners didn’t concede. Will there be a strike and, if so, how long will it last?

  • Journal Negotiations: Editors have asked their journal’s publisher for better terms and have received an unfavourable response. What agreement do the parties come to?

  • Nurses Dispute: Angry nurses increased their pay demand and threatened more strike action after specialist nurses and junior doctors received big increases. What will the outcome of their negotiations be?

  • Panalba Drug Policy: The FDA has started moves to ban a profitable Upjohn’s drug. How will the Upjohn’s board decide to respond? [Note that the aspect of this situation that is described in the material does NOT involve interaction between the parties involved in the conflict.]

  • Personal grievance: An employee demanded a meeting with a mediator when her job was down-graded after an evaluation by her new manager. What will the outcome of the meeting with the mediator be?

  • Telco takeover: An acquisitive telecommunications provider, after rejecting an offer to buy the mobile business of another, made a hostile bid for the whole corporation. How will the stand-off between the companies be resolved?

  • Water dispute: Troops from neighbouring nations moved to their common border and the downstream nation threatened to bomb a new upstream dam. Will the upstream neighbour agree to release additional water and, if not, how will the downstream nation’s government respond?

  • Zenith Investment: A large manufacturer evaluated an investment in expensive new technology in the face of political pressure. How many new manufacturing plants will the corporation decide to commission?

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For Educators

  • The U.S. Institute of Peace site provides materials for students to role-play conflicts as well as a guide on using simulations.

  • Self-learning, Self-Certification Courses offered by

    Self-learning courses can be more effective for learning than traditional courses. Remember to complete the course and examination before looking at the answers.

    • Forecasting using Structured Analogies (Beta version - Please send This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. your comments and suggestions)
    • Simulated interaction – a method for forecasting decisions in conflicts (Beta version – Please send This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. your comments and suggestions)

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The material for this Special Interest Group is organized and submitted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – Please contact him for further information, and corrections, additions, or suggestions for these pages