Skip to main content

University of Exeter Business School

Professor Mike Yearworth

Professor Mike Yearworth

Emeritus Professor of Management Science




Professor Yearworth's research addresses the complex strategic decision making challenges faced by organisations dealing with messy problems and is based on the use of Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs). Professor Yearworth has worked with a wide range of organisations in developing and applying systems modelling and problem structuring approaches to strategic decision making. These include Guardian News and Media (GNM), Defra, Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace, Thales UK, Dstl, Toshiba Telecoms Research Laboratory, Frazer Nash Consulting and Bristol City Council. His work is published in the European Journal of Operational Research, Energy Research & Social Science, Journal of the Operational Research Society, Energy Policy, Journal of Industrial Ecology, Systems Research and Behavioral Science and Systems Engineering. Mike has participated in 15 research projects with £25M funding from EPSRC, NERC, EU (H2020, FP7, FP6, FP5) and UK Gov (BIS, Defra, Highways Agency, DTI); 7 of these projects as PI and the remainder as named CoI.

Mike joined the Business School in 2016 and was previously Professor of Engineering Systems at the University of Bristol where he worked on the development of problem structuring methods to support systems practice in engineering organisations. This built on his previous work whilst Senior Research Manager at Hewlett-Packard’s European Research Laboratory (HP Labs) where he managed a number of projects researching the development and application of system modelling techniques to understanding the performance of very large complex managed services with focus areas in data centre operations, information security and automation. Before joining Hewlett-Packard, Mike was Director of the Intelligent Computer Systems Centre at the University of the West of England.

Mike is a Chartered Engineer (MBCS CITP CEng), originally a physicist (BSc, PhD University of Southampton), and also holds an MBA from the University of Bath.


  • BSc(Soton), PhD(Soton), MBA(Bath), MBCS, CITP, CEng


Back to top


Research interests

My research is focussed on the way in which managers make decisions when faced with messy problem contexts. These are characterised by contested stakeholder viewpoints, difficulties agreeing objectives, lack of reliable data and uncertain outcomes from interventions. My work is mostly concerned with the methodology of decision making and the development and use of Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs) to support decision making and is ordered in the following themes:

  • Methodology: Implications of the Generic Constitutive Definition (GCD) of Problem Structuring Methods - studying non-codified problem structuring in organisations, methodological learning and improving PSMs/Soft OR
  • Practice: Problem formulation, stakeholder engagement, working across multiple organisations, facilitation, use of Group Support Systems for online workshops, integrating functional systems modelling techniques (e.g. Discrete Event Modelling, Agent Based Modelling, System Dynamics) into problem structuring approaches, integrating analytics/big data (Smart OR)
  • Theory: Problem structuring and practice theory

These themes are investigated in the following contexts:

  • Problem structuring workshops for multi-organisational collaboration
  • Group decision making through conventional workshops and online Group Support Systems (GSS)

Keywords: Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs), Soft Operational Research (Soft OR), Group Support Systems (GSS)

Research projects

  • REPLICATE (REnaissance of PLaces with Innovative Citizenship And TEchnology)
  • STEEP (Systems Thinking for Efficient Energy Planning)
  • RESIST (Resilient Economy and Society by Integrated SysTems modelling)

Research grants

  • 2016 Horizon 2020
    EU H2020-SCC-2015 (691735) REPLICATE (REnaissance of Places with Innovative Citizenship and TEchnology).

Back to top

External Engagement and Impact

Advice to Government, Parliament, devolved and English regional administrations, other national, international, regional or local agencies; advice to non-government organisations and to private practice

  • 2017: External Review College (ERC) Analytics Capability, Dstl

Editorial responsibilities

External Examiner Positions

  • 2012 - 2016: External Examiner Hull University Business School (MRes Business and Management)
  • 2017 - 2022: External Examiner Loughborough University School of Business and Economics (MBA, Management Science stream)

Back to top

Edit Profile