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Green, K. C. and Armstrong, J. S. (2007). "The Ombudsman: Value of Expertise for Forecasting Decisions in Conflicts, Interfaces, 37, 287-299.

Green and Armstrong's paper (available in full text as a working paper and from the publisher) provides evidence on the accuracy of forecasts from the method usually used for forecasting the decision people will make in a conflict situation: unaided expert judgment. The authors obtained 106 forecasts by experts and 169 forecasts by novices about eight real conflicts. Conflicts included a military conflict in the Middle East, a hostile takeover attempt in the telecommunications industry, and a union-management dispute between nurses and the hospital that employed them. Experts' forecasts were little better than novices', and their forecasts were not meaningfully different from choosing at random.

The Green and Armstrong paper provides evidence on two principles:  

6.3 Use structured rather than unstructured forecasting methods

G&A's evidence on this principle is indirect. The research reported in G&A does not include structured methods. Other research by the same authors, however, shows that two structured methods (structured analogies and simulated interaction) provided forecasts for the same situations that were substantially more accurate than those from unaided expert judgment in G&A.  

6.7 Match the forecasting method(s) to the situation.

Prior research has shown that unaided judgment is not an appropriate forecasting method for complex situations, when relationships are unclear, when feedback on predictions is poor, and when experts are biased. All four of these problems are likely to arise with conflict situations. Despite the fact that this evidence has been available for many years, unaided expert judgment is still the method of choice for forecasting decisions in conflicts.

Kesten Green

August 28, 2007