Facets of trust in simulation studies

Alison Harper*, Navonil Mustafee, Mike Yearworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of a modelling and simulation (M&S) study for real-world operations management applications is to support decision-making and inform potential action, therefore investigating the aspects of the modelling process which influence trust is important. Previous work has considered the question of trust through the lens of model validation. However, whilst a simulation model may be technically well executed, stakeholders’ trust in the results may also depend upon intangible factors such as interpersonal relationships. Existing literature has also focused on the credibility of the simulation practitioner, however the credibility attribute belongs to the stakeholder, and it ignores the trust aspects that may exist between the stakeholders and the model itself. In this paper, we argue that different facets of trust emerge throughout the stages of a simulation study, and both influence, and are influenced by, the interaction between the model, the modeller and the stakeholders of the study. We present a synthesis of existing literature and extend it by proposing a formative model of trust which presents a conceptualisation of this tripartite relationship. Our contribution is the identification of the different facets of trust in the lifecycle of a modelling and simulation study. We argue that these interacting facets converge via the three-way relationship between modeller, model and stakeholders toward epistemic trust in the knowledge generated by the simulation study and ultimately model acceptability and implementation. To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first study that focuses solely on the question of trust in an M&S study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-213
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the ESRC funded South-West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP) (Grant ES/P000630/1 ). The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for providing valuable comments, which significantly improved this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s)

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Decision processes
  • Facilitated modelling
  • OR practice
  • Participatory modelling
  • Trust


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