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Encyclopedia Entry

Delphi Technique

John R. H. Charlton

This is a qualitative method for obtaining consensus among a group of experts. Named after the Delphic oracle, skillful at forecasting the future in ancient times, it was invented by the RAND Corporation in the 1960s for forecasting the probability, desirability, and impact of future events. Its use has now been extended to a wide range of situations where convergence of opinions is desirable. There are now three distinct forms: exploratory Delphi , as developed by RAND; focus Delphi , seeking views of disparate groups likely to be affected by some policy; and normative Delphi , gathering experts' opinions on defined issues to achieve consensus (e.g., to set goals and objectives). The essential element in the Delphi process is anonymity of participants when giving their opinion, which alleviates problems that could be caused by domination of the group by ...

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