Boffins at Bomber Command: The Role of Operational Research in Decision Making.

Most studies of Bomber Command leave one with the impression that Sir Arthur Harris managed operations almost single-handedly. Yet, those with an understanding of how large and complex organizations work will recognize that Harris could not have gathered, organized and acted on the plethora of data and factors that influenced daily and long term decisions. In fairness to those writing about Harris, this sort of description of commanders and headquarters is not unique to Bomber Command–it’s just the way we tend to write about them. This study will argue that the Operational Research (OR) Section of Bomber Command Headquarters provided scientifically derived conclusions and advice to Harris, as well as his predecessor and their key subordinates, to assist them with making technical and tactical decisions. Additionally it is hoped to illustrate that command is not the unitary activity that we might imagine, and perhaps even to suggest that Harris was not the donkeyesque Luddite that some might believe.

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