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Delphi Technique isa form of group decision making designed to provide group members with one another’s
ideas and feedback while avoiding some of the problems associated with interacting groups.
According toAMA Dictionary of Business and Management:
Delphi technique is a Qualitative forecasting technique by which a panel of experts respond to
questions from a forecaster or coordinator, who summarizes theresponses and repeatedly resubmits
themto the panel until the process yields an objective assessment.(Kurian, 2013).
According to Hsu & Sandford (2010), the Delphi technique is a group communication process as well as a
method of achieving a consensus of opinion associated with a specific topic. Predicated on the
rationale that more heads are better than one and that inputs generated by experts based on their
logical reasoning are superior to simply guessing, thetechnique engages a group of identified experts
in detailed examinations and discussions on a particular issue for the purpose of policy investigation,
goal setting, and forecasting future situations and outcomes. Common surveys try to identify what is.
The Delphi technique attempts to assess what could or should be.
The Delphi technique was named after the oracle at Delphi, who, according to Greek myth, delivered
prophecies. As the name implies, the Delph technique was originally developed to forecast future events and
possible outcomes based on inputs and circumstances. The technique was principally developed by Norman
Dalkey and Olaf Helmer at the RAND Corporation in the early 1950s. The earliest use of the Delphi process
was primarily military. Delphi started to gain popularity as a futuring tool in the mid-1960s and came to be
widely applied and examined by researchers and practitioners in fields such as curriculum development,
resource utilization, and policy determination. In the mid-1970s, however, the popularity of the Delphi
technique began to decline. Currently, using the Delphi technique as an integral part or as the exclusive tool
of investigation in a research or an evaluation project is not uncommon. This entry examines the Delphi
process, including subject selection and analysis of data. It also discusses the advantages and disadvantages
of the Delphi technique, along with the use of electronic technologies in facilitating implementation. (Hsu &
The Delphi Technique uses questionnaires that areanswered by members of the group. A coordinator then
summarizes the solutions and sends thesummary back to the group members, togetherwith another
questionnaire. This process iscontinued until a clear course of action is determined. (Commonwealth of
The approaches to forecasting can be made more systematic, and a little more quantitative, if the several
people who make forecasts on the same trend are pooled. Each forecaster commenting on the forecast made
by the other forecasts can also increase accuracy. Using the Delphi Technique, a facilitator gathers the
Management and Organization (5569)
forecasts, as well as the reasons for them, from the specialists in the panel. (The Delphi Technique is a form
of group decision making designed to provide group members with one another’s ideas and feedback while
avoiding some of the problems associated with interacting groups.) All the panelists then receive each other’s
forecasts and reasons for the forecasts, and comment about this information. After several rounds of reviews,
the forecasts are refined and the facilitator submits the final forecast. Ideally, the forecasters attain consensus
on the final forecast. An example of a final forecast might be, “By 2020, one-half of car buyers in the United
States and Canada will want to purchase a hybrid vehicle.” (DuBrin, 2012).
To use this technique one needs:
1. to brief the members of the group about the initial research idea (they can make notes if they wish);
2. to, at the end of the briefing, encourage group members to seek clarification and more information as
3. to ask each member of the group, including the originator of the research idea, to generate
independently up to three alternative research ideas based on the initial idea (they can also be asked
to provide a justification for their specific ideas);
4. to collect the research ideas in an unedited and non-attributable form and to distribute them to all
members of the group to reflect on;
5. to encourage group members to comment on each research idea, including giving reasons for their
6. a second cycle of steps 2 to 5 to encourage further refinements or new options in light of what others
have said during the first cycle;
7. subsequent cycles of the process until an outcome is reached. This may be a consensus around a
particular research idea. It may occur when saturation occurs – no further ideas are forthcoming. It
may also occur when participants become tired and less productive. In practice, three cycles of this
technique are likely to produce an effectiveoutcome.
This process works well, not least because people enjoy trying to help one another. In addition, it is very
useful in forming cohesive groups. (Saunders, Lewis& Thornhill, 2016).
assessments from a
pool of experts
Experts respond to
the request, receive
feedback and revise
Facilitator complies the
responses and sends a
revised set of questions to
each expert. Several cycles
of feedback may be
report on experts’
Management and Organization (5569)
WHEN DO USE DELPHI TECHNIQUE?
Linstone and Turoff (2002), two of the earliest researchers with the Delphi technique, offered a number of
common reasons why a researcher might select Delphi as the research design of choice:
1. There is a lack of detail or information is incomplete in terms of the problem which makes precise
analysis impossible, yet collective subjective judgments by experts might be of value.
2. The potential participants needed to work on a complex problem might be very diverse experts with
no history of regular communication.
3. Researchers need to include more participants than could easily be accommodated in an on-ground
4. Money and time make frequent meetings, as a group, are impractical.
5. Group meetings can often be a problem because of personality or strong differences of opinion,
whereas anonymous communication could avoid that issue.
1. Opportunities for large number of people to participate;
2. Focus is on “ideas” rather than “individuals”;
3. Anonymity for participants which make contributions of ideas a safe activity;
4. Opportunities for participants to reconsider their opinions;
5. Allows for identification of priorities
1. Large amount of time to conduct several rounds;
2. The complexity of data analysis;
3. The difficulty of maintaining participant enthusiasm throughout process
4. The problem of keeping statements value free and clearly defined
5. Self reporting data is subject to respondent’s biases and memories
6. The bandwagon effect of a majority opinion
7. The power of persuasion or prestigious individuals to shape group opinion;
8. The vulnerability of group dynamics to manipulation;
9. The unwillingness of individuals to abandon publicly stated positions.
Commonwealth of Learning.(2012). C2 Management and Organisation. Vancouver: Commonwealth of Learning.
DuBrin, A. J. (2012). Essentials of Management. 9th ed. Mason, USA: South-Western.
Hsu, Chia-Chien & Sandford, B. A. (2010).Delphi Technique.In N. J. Salkind (ed.), Encyclopedia of Research Design (pp. 343-346).Thousand Oaks,
Calif. : SAGE Publications, Inc.
Kurian, G. T. (2013). The AMA Dictionary of Business and Management. New York: AMACOM.
Linstone, H. A., &Turoff, M. (Eds.). (2002). The Delphi method: Techniques and applications. Retrieved
Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2016). Research methods for business students. 7th ed. Essex, England: Pearson Education.