Toward More Effective Use of Expert Opinion

Preliminary Investigation of Participatory Polling for Long-Range Planning

by Harold Sackman

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The technique of participatory polling was developed for a prototype trial in response to the need for long-range R&D planning requiring the opinions, assumptions, and values of planners and decisionmakers. Currently used techniques, such as Delphi, suffer from numerous limitations. This polling technique has five key features: (1) iterative polling, (2) participant-interpreted reasons for responses, (3) evaluation of the interpretations of others, (4) quantitative and qualitative group feedback, and (5) formal questionnaire design and analysis. The paper describes the application of this technique at Rand to a sample of 10 experts on long-range R&D planning for the close air support mission in the Air Force. The resulting data were computed in a three-way analysis of variance consisting of three main effects and their associated interactions. Results for the expert opinions were generally credible and internally consistent. Formal experimental procedures were explicit, replicable, and amenable to quantitative analyses, and the associated measures were statistically reliable.

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