Research

Group W's research efforts are focused on complex problems in areas of long-standing concern as well as emerging issues. The purpose of our research is to advance the state of knowledge in areas of primary concern to our clients. Some clients are trying to rationalize physical processes and interactions in a scope and scale that conspire to make understanding difficult. While challenging, these questions can be resolved by creative modeling approaches and quantitative techniques. Other clients face more daunting questions where the dynamics of human social, behavioral, and cultural systems combine to make the problem seem impenetrable and resolution a fantasy.

We focus on bringing together researchers with the wide range of expertise necessary to develop approaches to understand these problems. Our research teams include social scientists working in many disciplines, such as sustainable development, conflict resolution, public and organizational policy, and computational and systems experts. Of critical importance is that our teams are comprised of people who bridge multiple disciplines, and who value knowledge that spans from the realm of practical experience to the theoretical domain. In our trans-disciplinary approach, domain experts don't talk past each other, ignoring what they aren't familiar with and relying narrowly on what they do know. Instead, they exploit shared perspectives and overlapping skills to forge innovative ways to advance the state of the art.

Lessons learned from decades spent analyzing complex questions involving complex processes and interactions gives us the perspective to value incremental progress and be wary of absolute solutions. This realistic but determined attitude enhances our ability to improve outcomes, whether they are associated with increasing the effectiveness of development and disaster response initiatives funded by international organizations, building awareness of the impact of social and cultural dynamics in complex operations, or informing policy debate for better organizational responses to a variety of challenges.