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Characteristics of the Delphi method

Characteristics of the Delphi method
We explained before the procedure and how you can actually implement Delphi Method. Let’s see. Now, what are the characteristics and features of Delphi Method that somebody has to obey in order to implement it in a robust way. First of all, anonymity of participants. This is very important, as I mentioned before, experts should never know who are the other experts in terms of their profile. And they also need to be assured that their own profile and information is not going to be revealed to anyone. And this is important even after the whole project and Delphi Method is actually finished.
Why this is important? Well, for several reasons, First of all, we need to try to avoid experts to be biased by their own personal background. What is usually called the bandwagon effect or the halo effect. Because, for example, I’m the president of an association, I have to report x y z. Now, if you ensure this person that he’s kept anonymous, then of course he will be more free to express himself on his opinion in a more approachable and more reliable way. If others also did not know what is the authority, the personality, the expert, or the reputation of other participants, then they will not be influenced by the opinion of the others.
So somebody cannot say or he’s actually a big professor or guru on science. So I should better agree with him or her and I should never criticizes him. By not knowing who is the expert on his profile, both of the expert is more free to express himself, and the others are more free to criticize him and express themselves in a more reliable and credible way. In addition, if somebody wishes to revise his opinion, he’s more free to do this, because he doesn’t run the risk of what we usually say. You lose face. Nobody knows who you are.
So if you realize that you made a wrong prediction, you feel more free to go back and revise it and probably agree or contribute something different to what the others have said.
Second characteristic of Delphi Method is to try to keep the information flow and the feedback in a very structured way. Experts are required to give their answers about specific questions, and also to give their opinion in a free text. An open question why they gave this answer.
What the panel director or the facilitator should do is to try to consolidate this information, take out and filter out any relevant content and provided in a good summarized way to the different experts. So they can revise and come back with a new opinion. By doing this, there is certainty that the facilitator avoids all the different problems of different group dynamics by one member dominating the other or not people being able to express themselves.
That may happen in an open communication: face to face real-time way between experts.
Third characteristic: providing regular feedback. It’s very important for the facilitator to consolidate their reviews and go back to the experts with what the results are. The quicker you do it, the more you keep the momentum, and the better opinions and reliable predictions you get from your panel. What role the facilitator should play during the Delphi Method? The facilitator or the leader of the panel is a key position.
He is actually the one who manages the whole process. He might identify the experts, he sends them out the questionnaires. He actually sends reminders to boost the response rates. He probably motivates people to give their opinion to reliable one, and he is also the one that collects and analyzes all the data. It identifies similarities or different views. It consolidates them in a format and go back to the experts with a single report asking them to revise again their opinion and send their predictions back to him or her.
We have explained the implementation of Delphi Method based on the rational that the aim is to reach consensus. But this is not always the case. There are many variations of implementing the Delphi Method whereby consensus is not the ultimate goal. You have here three different approaches to implement it. The first one is called Policy Delphi. It’s called like this, because the aim of this approach is actually to ask the panel of experts about their opinion on the topic. And the ultimate goal is not to reach consensus, but to actually identify different views and use the procedure as a communication, an interactive communication process between the experts that make them feel that they participate in decision making.
And that’s why this Policy Delphi Method is heavily used in disciplines of democracy or government, whereby you want citizens or experts to participate in policy decision-making processes. The second approach to Delphi Method is called Argument Delphi, which was developed few years ago by Osmo Kuusi. It’s called the Argument Delphi. Because the goal is not focusing on reaching a particular output or consensus. But to force the experts to brainstorm on different ideas about the future, identify different arguments, and consolidate them into a list of different forecast for the future. The last type of Delphi Method is called Disaggregative Policy Delphi developed by Patri Tapio. What is the purpose of this approach? The purpose, again, is not to reach consensus.
The purpose is to create different scenarios and different plans about what future is going to be. And that’s why the technique uses a cluster analysis to group the opinions of different experts into different scenarios and different plans. Where the Delphi study has been applied? Well, it started many years ago. We can see the science and technology field asking experts about their future predictions how the technology is going to develop their future predictions how the technology is going to develop and what the socioeconomic implications are going to be.
But later on, the Delphi Method had been adopted with an increasing rate within the business field asking panel of experts to give their opinions about future marketing trends and future consumer behavior challenges. Later on is for policy makers. They have adopted the same technique, asking experts about their opinion related to economic trends, sell issues, educational issues. And very recently, again, policy makers are adopting the Delphi technique as an interactive communication method to engage different citizens and professionals into a participatory policy-making.

By the end of this video, I think you will know characteristics about the Delphi method, such as anonymity of the participants, structuring of information flow, regular feedback and role of the facilitator.

Prof. Mariana Sigala has propose her opinion about the application context of the Delphi method in the video. Could you please share your thinking about which research topics or areas are preferable to use the Delphi method?

Could you please share you views with us in the discussion area?

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