Professor Lane awarded ORS President’s Medal

12 December 2014

Professor Lane awarded ORS President’s Medal

Professor David Lane has received the Operational Research Society’s President’s Medal 2014 for work in the area of child protection.

Professor David C. Lane of Henley Business School’s Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting has received the 2014 President’s Medal of the Operational Research Society’s for systems modelling work in the area of child protection.

The award citation states:

The winner of the OR Society President’s Medal for 2014, for the submission judged to be best practical, implemented, application of O.R., goes to David Lane (Henley Business School), Eileen Munro (LSE) and Elke Husemann, for “Using Systems Thinking to Undertake a Review of Child Protection in England.” The work formed a central part of ‘the Munro Review’, a high-profile review of state-managed child protection activities in England, conducted for the Department for Education.

Child protection in England encompasses a wide range of services which aim to secure the safety and welfare of children and young people. This includes, for example, the provision of foster care and adoption services, and support for families. The child protection system is also responsible for the investigation of possible cases of child maltreatment, and intervention in such cases.

Drawing on the field of system dynamics, causal loop diagramming was used to map the sector. Among the evidence used in support of the map were published research, expert interviews, and comments from relevant professions (e.g. health, social work, judiciary). This systems mapping unearthed a prescriptive approach to child protection that contributed to a culture of compliance.

A second phase of work used group model building to examine the functioning of the sector. A group of professionals and experts worked over a number of sessions and created a large and complex systems map of current operations. By considering the causal mechanisms that were in operation, it became apparent that the sector was in the grip of a set of reinforcing effects, or ‘vicious circles’. The map was subsequently used to give structure to the issues the review had to address and ultimately provided an organising framework for the recommendations that were made. Of the 15 recommendations in the report, ten were accepted in full and five were accepted in principle.

Using systems thinking and causal loop diagrams the work addressed a vital area of public policy and it had a major influence on the recommendations of the Munro Review. That influence continues through on-going changes in government policy for child protection. The work was therefore judged a worthy winner of the President’s Medal for 2014.

From left to right: Eileen Munro, David. C Lane, Elke Husemann