4th IMA Conference on Analysing Conflict Transformation





Monday June 28, 2010 Monday June 28, 2010 Europe/London 4th IMA Conference on Analysing Conflict Transformation IMAUK Date: Monday 28 June 2010 Location: St. Anne’s College, Oxford In a world that is increasingly riven by conflict, often […] Event Link: https://ima.org.uk/1223/4th-ima-conference-analysing-conflict-transformation/

4th IMA Conference on Analysing Conflict Transformation

Date: Monday 28 June 2010
Location: St. Anne’s College, Oxford

In a world that is increasingly riven by conflict, often involving emergent non-state factions in rapidly changing patterns of inter-relationship, the need for rigorous conflict analysis is more pressing than ever. However, to be robust and insightful, such analysis must be informed by the wide range of disciplines – including mathematics and decision sciences, diplomacy and international relations, peace and war studies, anthropology and psychology, military and political science, linguistics and communication studies – whose scholars presently engage with the topic of confrontation. This conference, the 4th in an established and successful series hosted by the IMA will, like its predecessors, provide a forum for sharing the latest thinking in these disparate fields and for building multidisciplinary links between conflict researchers.

The theme of the present conference is the process of conflict transformation. When conflict analysts focus upon specific episodes within what are usually protracted and complex networks of interaction, they may easily lose sight of relevant issues in the spatial, temporal or causal environment. Furthermore the processes by which confrontation may transform into collaboration, or co-operation may degenerate into conflict, are central both to conflict escalation and conflict resolution. The conference will therefore be concerned with the dynamics of conflict processes and will include wide-ranging interpretations and explorations of this theme.

There is a secondary emphasis. Rather than separating the analytical activity from its ‘real world’ impact there is a preference that those contributing to this event should demonstrate attention to the actions that their work informs. The means by which this is achieved may range from facilitating workshops or running simulations to experimentation and interactive modelling, and presentations may describe such activities.

This is an international event and will attract contributors from many countries. The conference is intended as a meeting place for those who operate directly in arenas of conflict (e.g. the military, staff of NGOs, mediators), those who provide support or advice (e.g. analysts, contractors, counsellors) and others who offer theoretical concepts and practical frameworks for handling conflict (e.g. academic researchers).

Conference topics include

  • Conflict: concepts and theory
  • Modelling and analysing conflict
  • Group decision and negotiation
  • Processes of confrontation and collaboration
  • Conflict resolution and peace-building
  • Collective action addressing conflictual issues
  • Simulation and role play
  • Evaluation and assessment
  • Information architectures and technologies
  • Lessons from specific conflicts


Further information about the conference venue can be found at: http://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/conferences/introduction.html.


Scientific enquiries should be made to:
Prof Jim Bryant (email: J.W.bryant@shu.ac.uk)
Sheffield Business School, City Campus, Sheffield, S1 1WB, UK

General enquiries concerning conference arrangements should be sent to:
The Conference Officer (email: conferences@ima.org.uk)
Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, Catherine Richards House, 16 Nelson Street, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 1EF, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1702 354020

Invited Plenary Speakers (confirmed)

Conflict Transformation: an Operational Research Perspective
Roger Forder

Abstract: Operational research (OR) has its origins in the empirical observation and analysis of military operations. It later expanded its scope to embrace the modelling of hypothetical conflicts from a more theoretical standpoint. Whilst initially the focus was unremittingly quantitative, in more recent years OR has exploited a wider range of approaches in order to address the complex strategic environment that followed the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, despite changing emphases, OR has remained committed to three principles: trying to make the best use of empirical data; aiming for explicit, auditable modelling, while taking a pragmatic approach to the form that modelling takes; and, above all, focusing on the final aim of timely, practical advice to the executive decision-maker. The paper will discuss the application of these principles in addressing conflict transformation.

Although his original academic background was in chemistry and crystallography, Roger Forder has enjoyed a long career in operational research within the UK Ministry of Defence, starting in 1974 when he joined the Defence Operational Analysis Establishment at West Byfleet in Surrey. He subsequently held a variety of posts, both in MoD scientific establishments and in Whitehall, most of which were concerned in one way or another with OR to support defence decision-makers. In 1995 he was appointed Chief Analyst of the Centre for Defence Analysis (part of the newly formed Defence Evaluation and Research Agency). Following the implementation of the DERA Public-Private Partnership scheme in 2001, he continued to play a similar role within the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory until his retirement from the Senior Civil Service in 2007. He continues to work part-time for Dstl on a variety of OR and system-related topics. Dr Forder is a Fellow and, currently, one of the two Vice-Presidents of the Operational Research Society. In 2005 the Society elected him a Companion of Operational Research for his “sustained support and encouragement for the development of OR”.

Learning through Role Play about Decision-Making in Multi-Issue, Multi-Stakeholder Contexts
Donal O’Neill

Abstract: In traditional academic education and in business training, problems tend to get addressed through the lens of a single discipline. In such cases solutions can usually be identified which, in the context of that discipline, and often with mathematical support, can appear to be optimum. “Single-Issue” campaigning organisations often approach their concerns from this starting point. In practice however, government, business and other major entities are confronted with the need to address multiple problems in parallel. Typically, many others beside the “main players” may influence inputs or be affected by outcomes and emotion and prejudice may count as much as scientific or economic fact. In such cases an optimum and rational solution to one problem can cause significant complications in other areas. In such multi-issue, multi-stakeholder contexts the best outcome that can be hoped for may not be an optimum one, but rather the combination of sub-optimum solutions which, in aggregate, represent the least worst” outcome. Irrational factors may need to be taken into account as well as potential unintended consequences of decisions that can have repercussions over a very long time scale.

The writer has found role-playing simulations to be a powerful tool for sensitising business and political leaders to the complexities involved in such decision making. A single central problem is postulated – e.g. nationalisation of the gas industry in a country which faces serious economic challenges and low social cohesion, and in which the government’s hold on power is tenuous – and the entities directly influencing the outcome, or who will be directly or indirectly influenced by it, are identified. Up to sixteen groups may be accommodated, typically in teams of two to six persons, and entities represented may include ruling and opposition political parties, private companies, multi-laterals, local communities, think-tanks, non-governmental organisations and media. Initial briefings are team-specific and not necessarily comprehensive or wholly reliable. Following preparatory work within the teams, interaction between teams takes place over, typically, a one and a half day period, followed by a half-day debrief. Such interaction is intense, indeed exhausting, involving information – or disinformation – exchange, problem analysis, image management, solution identification, alliance building and negotiation against a background of rapidly changing priorities and schedules driven by the teams themselves. Players of such simulations have included undergraduates, MBA students, business leaders, civil servants and politicians up to the level of state-governors in Latin America. The simulation is ideally preceded by a short series of lectures focussed on decision-making, simple game theory, scenario thinking, impact assessment, issue and stakeholder management and alliance building.

This presentation will outline the rationale underlying this type of training and describe how such simulations are custom-designed to address specific thinking challenges.

Prior to his present role as a consultant on the impact of industry on host societies, Donal spent 36 years with Shell, almost a third of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. He left Shell as Vice President: External Affairs and Social Performance, a position that he had specifically requested so that he could “plough back and institutionalise” the experience he had gained in managing oil and gas ventures in challenging environments and implement his belief that “management of the industry’s impact on its host societies is as important as its technical and economic management of its oil and gas assets”. Previously he had held a number of senior operational positions with the company including Managing Director of Shell Venezuela Exploration and Production between 1996 and 2000. He has recently developed a portfolio of scenario-based role-playing simulation tools that have been used at a number of universities (e.g. Oxford and Columbia) to enable participants to explore the challenges of collaboration in a development context.

Afghanistan: A Nation of Conflicting Narratives
Mary Crannell

Abstract: Afghanistan is a nation that knows conflict. For the last thirty years the country has been a war zone. This session will address how conflicting narratives have hindered success in the region and examine a method that assists decision makers map narratives to identify conflicting messages and how best to dominate the narrative among the cacophony of narratives to achieve a successful exit.

Mary Crannell is president and founder of Idea Sciences, a company that designs decision support tools that integrate intuition and logic to assist organizations in all sectors make smarter decisions. Previously she was a senior manager in SAIC. She has more than 20 years of experience in organizational transformation, intercultural consulting and training and has been a key contributor to the merger and acquisition efforts of Fortune 100 companies. Ms Crannell is a frequent speaker on cultural change within organizations, and articles she has authored have appeared in systems engineering, government and training/management consulting journals. She serves as a co-chair on a study panel for the US Army Science Board, is a member of the Information Technology Commission for Arlington County, Arlington, VA and is a board member on the Kogod School of Business, Information Technology Executive Council. She holds a bachelor of arts from Eisenhower College of the Rochester Institute of Technology and earned a master’s degree from Colgate University, where she graduated cum laude.


Scientific Committee

Dr Amer Obeidi, University of Waterloo, Canada
Gordon Burt, Open University, UK
Mary Crannell, Idea Sciences, Washington DC
Dr Orit Gal, Chatham House, London
Dr Deborah Goodwin, RMA, Sandhurst
Prof Hugh Miall, University of Kent, UK
Andy Pickup, Dstl, UK
Dr Suman Sensarma, The Louis Berger Group, India
Dr Russ Vane III, IBM, USA

Organising Committee

Prof Jim Bryant, Sheffield Business School, UK (Conference Chair)
Colin Irwin, Dstl, UK
Dr Jason Levy, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA
Prof Marc Kilgour, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada


This fourth conference in an established and successful series hosted by the IMA will, like its predecessors, provide an international forum for sharing current work in conflict research and analysis. Contributions have been accepted from speakers in a wide range of disciplines who are extending both theory and practice in conflict transformation.

The conference begins in the morning of Monday 28 June and concludes with lunch on Wednesday 30 June. Bed and breakfast accommodation at St Anne’s College is available on 27, 28 and 29 June. The conference fee includes a reception and conference dinner on 29 June but no dinner is provided on 28th.

Three keynote sessions and a concluding panel discussion provide a collective focus for the event. For the most of the remaining time the conference will be twin-streamed to provide adequate air-time for speakers and debate. Thematic sessions of 2-3 papers will be in such fields as: military operations, non-state actors, mediation, civil war, peace-building, mediation, military-political, information warfare. Approaches will include: gaming, fieldwork, conflict modelling, discourse analysis, grounded theory and decision support. Conflict over natural resources – notably water – is addressed in a significant number of the accepted papers.

The final programme is show below.

Time Mon 28 June Time Tues 29 June Time Wed 30 June
9.30 – 14.30 Registration 9.00 Parallel Session 4
(2×2 Presentations)
9.15 Parallel Session 8
(2×2 Presentations)
10.15 Welcome by
Conference Chair
10.30 Keynote:
Roger Forder
11.30 Coffee Break 10.30 Coffee Break 10.45 Coffee Break
11.45 Parallel Session 1
(2×2 Presentations)
10.45 Parallel Session 5
(2×2 Presentations)
11.00 Keynote:
Mary Crannell
12.15 Keynote:
Donal O’Neill
12.00 Panel with
Keynote Speakers
13.15 Lunch 13.15 Lunch 13.00 Closing remarks by
Conference Chair
14.15 Parallel Session 2
(2×2 Presentations)
14.15 Parallel Session 6
(2×2 Presentations)
13.15 Lunch
15.45 Tea Break 15.45 Tea Break
16.00 Parallel Session 3
(2×2 Presentations)
16.00 Parallel Session 7
(2×3 Presentations)
14.00 Available for group
17.30 End 18.15 Free time 15.00 Depart
19.30 Reception/Dinner

Keynote speakers in order of appearance:

Roger Forder
Conflict Transformation: an Operational Research Perspective

Donal O’Neill
Learning through Role Play about Decision-Making in Multi-Issue, Multi-Stakeholder Contexts

Mary Crannell
Afghanistan: A Nation of Conflicting Narratives


Parallel Session 1: 11.45 – 13.15 : Monday 28th June
1. (A) Political-Military
Location: Lecture Theatre
Colin Irwin The Utility of Political-Military Gaming in Understanding Conflicts
Elin Marthinussen A small nation perspective on progress assessment in a
multinational operation
1. (B) Analysing Transformation
Location: Seminar
Sara Cobb Modeling Conflict Transformation using Narrative Attributes
Clementine Burnley Quantitative Tools for Conflict Risk Assessment and Conflict
Early Warning at National and Subnational Level
Parallel Session 2: 14.15 – 15.45 : Monday 28th June
2. (A) Theory-Building
Location: Lecture Theatre
Gordon Burt Challenging fundamental flaws: conflict, complexity and
mathematical social science
Thomas Spielbuechler Conflict-Analysis beyond Monocausal Models
2. (B) Information
Location: Lecture Theatre
Jacob Jacob The role of Information Intervention in Conflict transformation:
the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Grazia Concilio Mediation Entities in Spatial Planning Conflicts
Parallel Session 3: 16.00 – 17.30 : Monday 28th June
3. (A) Fieldwork
Location: Lecture Theatre
Saskia Baas Recruitment processes among armed movements in Sudan
Victor Svetlov
& Jim Bryant
Reflections on analyses of the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict
3. (B) Non-Violence
Location: Seminar
Ellen Furnari Nonviolent Peaceforce in Action: A study in violence prevention
and related theory
Andrew Okun Nonviolence as Force Protection for Rebels


Parallel Session 4: 9.00 – 10.30 : Tuesday 29th June
4. (A) Military-Political
Location: Lecture Theatre
Becky Austin Modelling Conflict: A holistic tool to determine an effective
strategic approach for the resolution of conflict
Deborah Goodwin The constraints of zero sum thinking in resolving conflict
4. (B) Drama Theory
Location: Seminar
Jim Bryant Conflict transformation as the handling (or mishandling) of dilemmas
Parallel Session 5: 10.45 – 12.15 : Tuesday 29th June
5. (A) Data Analysis
Location: Lecture Theatre
Michael Moore Sideshows and Preludes: Conflicts to which the State is not a Party
Ana-Maria Duta The Global Atlas on Natural Resources and Conflicts
5. (B) Graph Model
Location: Seminar
Marc Kilgour The Graph Model for Conflict Resolution: An Update
Amer Obeidi Perceptual Graphs for Modeling Dynamic Conflicts with
Asymmetrical Outcomes
Parallel Session 6: 14.15 – 15.45 : Tuesday 29th June
6. (A) Mediation
Location: Lecture Theatre
Erin Dyer Lessons for Transformative Mediation in a non-Western World
Isabel Phillips Heuristics and bias in commercial mediation
6. (B) Water
Location: Seminar
Phil Taylor Empirical Analysis of Current Operations to Support Planning
Parallel Session 7: 16.00 – 18.15 : Tuesday 29th June
7. (A) Emotion
Location: Lecture Theatre
Federico de Sisto
& Grace Kyoon
Re-imagining mediation: the role of emotions in bridging conflict
Bilyana Martinovski Emotion’s Functional Potential in Conflict Transformation
Korey Dyck Make Belief Happen: Mapping the Practice of Interreligious Dialogue
for Peacebuilding – a New Typology for the 21st Century
 7. (B) Decision Support Systems
Location: Seminar
Jason Levy Advances in conflict resolution teaching and learning: an
introduction to GMCRII
Brooke Abrahams Providing Online Decision Support for Owners Corporation Disputes
Jason Levy A Framework for Evaluating the Pedagogical Effectiveness of
Decision Support Systems for Conflict Transformation


Parallel Session 8: 9.15 – 10.45 : Wednesday 30th June
8. (A) Military Operations
Location: Lecture Theatre
Simon Purton What’s in a name? Or, why half of winning a war is agreeing what
it is…
8. (B) Modelling
Location: Seminar
Rachel Julian Overcoming the challenge of causality and attribution in conflict
transformation projects in order to show results and evaluate
Brigitte Beauzamy The challenges of transnational non-violent direct action in
community conflicts: the case of peace French mobilizations in

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