Delphi is a ‘method for structuring a group communication process so that the process is effective in allowing a group of individuals, as a whole, to deal with a complex problem’ (p.3, ) and is based on the assumption that group opinion is more valid and reliable that individual opinion .
There are four key features that characterize the Delphi process:
1 | anonymity of the individual responses
2 | iteration that allows participants to revise their perspectives and values
3 | controlled feedback and
4 | statistical aggregation
By not making mandatory the physical presence of the members of the group, Delphi avoids social pressure (as it is an anonymous process) and it allows for a more efficient use of resources, such as time and money. This is valid for all group sizes, but is especially relevant considering large groups and/or geographically dispersed participants.
Delphi was developed at the RAND Corporation in the 1950s to forecast the impact of technology on warfare. Since its development, and given its underlying flexibility, the Delphi method has undergone different modifications and today there are several types of Delphi methods. This ability to adapt to different real world problems makes it possible to find examples of Delphi processes on : risk management, investment analysis, planning health services, policy and trend analysis and policy formulation.
1. Linstone, H.A. and M. Turoff, The Delphi method: Techniques and applications. 2002, Reading: Addison-Wesley.
2. Keeney, S., F. Hasson, and H. McKenna, The Delphi technique in nursing and health research. 2011, Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.
3. Gupta, U.G. and R.E. Clarke, Theory and applications of the Delphi technique: A bibliography (1975–1994). Technological forecasting and social change, 1996. 53(2): 185-211.
4. Warner, L.A., Using the Delphi Technique to Achieve Consensus: A Tool for Guiding Extension Programs. 2014, Agricultural Education and Communication Department, UF/IFAS Extension