Forecasting Decisons in Conflicts: Analogy, Game Theory, Unaided Judgement, and Simulation Compared
There has been surprisingly little research on how best to predict decisions in conflicts. Managers commonly use their unaided judgement for the task. Game theory and a disciplined use of analogies have been recommended. When tested, experts using their unaided judgement and game theorists performed no better than chance. Experts using structured analogies performed better than chance, but the most accurate forecasts were provided by simulated interaction using student role players. Twenty-one game theorists made 98 forecasts for eight diverse conflicts. Forty-one experts in conflicts made 60 solo forecasts using structured analogies and 96 solo forecasts using unaided judgement (a further seven provided collaborative forecasts only) while 492 participants made 105 forecasts in simulated interactions. Overall, one-in-three forecasts by game theorists and by experts who did not use a formal method were correct. Forecasters who used structured analogies were correct for 45 percent and forecasts from simulated interactions were correct for 62 percent of forecasts. Analysis using alternative measures of accuracy does not affect the findings. Neither expertise nor collaboration appear to affect accuracy. The findings are at odds with the opinions of experts, who expected experts to be more accurate than students regardless of the method used.