Getting Started with Cognitive Mapping


Cognitive Mapping is a technique which has been developed over a period of time and through its application has demonstrated its use for Operational Researchers working on a variety of different tasks. These tasks include; providing help with structuring messy or complex data for problem solving, assisting the interview process by increasing understanding and generating agendas, and managing large amounts of qualitative data from documents. Whilst Cognitive Mapping is often carried out with individuals on a one to one basis it can be used with groups to support them in problem solving. This tutorial aims to: • explain why Operational Researchers might wish to use Cognitive Mapping • give some ideas as to how it has been used • provide participants with practical experience of the technique Introduction Cognitive Mapping may be used for a variety of purposes although a "problem" of some sort usually forms the focus of the work. It is a technique used to structure, analyse and make sense of accounts of problems. These accounts can be verbal for example, presented at an interview, or documentary. Cognitive mapping can be used as a note-taking method during an interview with the problem owner and provides a useful interviewing device if used in this way. Alternatively, it can be used to record transcripts of interviews or other documentary data in a way that promotes analysis, questioning and understanding of the data. The technique is founded on George Kelly's theory of personal constructs (Kelly 1955) and the principles of cognitive mapping indicated below reflect our reading of that theory. The theory suggests that we make sense of the world in order to predict how, all things being equal, the world will be in the future, and to decide how we might act or intervene in order to achieve what we prefer within that world a predict and control view of problem solving. Fran Ackermann is a Professor in the Department of Management Science and Colin Eden is a Professor in the Graduate School of Business at the University of Strathclyde. Dr Steve Cropper is a Reader in Manaement in the Centre for Health Planning and Management at the University of Keele. This paper was published as a tutorial paper at the 7 Young OR Conference, University of Warwick, 13th-15 April 1992. pp65-82. It is provided with the Decision Explorer help file and is also available on our web site, which can be found at (A working paper version of this paper also exists as part of the University of Strathclyde, Management Science: Theory, Method and Practice Working Paper Series (1990). The reference is: Fran Ackermann, Colin Eden and Steve Cropper. Cognitive Mapping – a user’s guide. Working Paper 90/2. February 1990.) The most up to date guidance by Ackermann and Eden on cognitive mapping how do it and how to use it in interviews appears in the book -“Making Strategy: the Journey of Strategic Management”, C. Eden and F. Ackermann. Sage 1998. ISBN 0-7619-5225-X. This book contains a section of theory and concept chapters, which are linked to vignettes illustrating particular episodes in the journey of strategy making, and a practical section. The cognitive mapping chapter appears in the practical section of the book.

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@inproceedings{Ackermann2004GettingSW, title={Getting Started with Cognitive Mapping}, author={By Fran Ackermann and Colin Eden and Steve Cropper}, year={2004} }