Delphi Technique

Cite this article as:"Delphi Technique," in The Business Professor, updated November 24, 2018, last accessed October 21, 2020,

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Delphi Technique Definition

This is a structured forecasting method involving a panel of experts. Typically, the panel of experts receives two or more rounds of questionnaires containing the same question. The experts are allowed to answer the questions anonymously along with the reasons for their judgments. After each round, a facilitator or change agent presents a summary of the responses received from the experts along with their arguments. In the consecutive rounds, the experts are free to change their responses after analyzing the answers given by other panel members. The rounds are stopped after reaching a pre-defined criterion, and the mean or median score of the final rounds is considered to be the correct response or forecast. It is an effective method to reach the correct response through consensus.

A Little More on What is the Delphi Method

The experts modify their responses based on the facts and arguments provided by other panelists. The discussions enable them to reach towards a correct response. It was introduced by Olaf Helmer and Norman Dalkey of the Rand Corporation, in the 1950s. The method is named after a priestess at a temple of Apollo in ancient Greece, Oracle Delphi.

The facilitator selects the panel members according to their expertise and sends out the questionnaire to each of them with specific instructions. The experts form their arguments based on their experience and research. The rounds continue until the predefined criterion it reaches, the criterion can be a number of rounds, achievement of consensus or stability of results.

It is a process to bring forward the diverse opinions of the experts in the field and reach a consensus without having them to meet physically. The process may become too time-consuming and may lack the spirit of live interactions. It may also become difficult to reach a consensus through this process as no direct communication takes place among the panelists.

References for Delphi Method

Academic Research on Delphi Technique

Delphi technique, Hsu, C. C., & Sandford, B. A. (2010). Encyclopedia of research design, 344-347. This paper explains all the assumptions, scope and aim of the Delphi technique as well as how this technique affects a firm’s activity.

Research guidelines for the Delphi survey technique, Hasson, F., Keeney, S., & McKenna, H. (2000). Journal of advanced nursing32(4), 1008-1015. According to this paper, the Delphi survey technique is being used to enhance the effective decision making in the social and health care niche. It is also regarded as a group of technique (facilitating) which is divided into different stages/process designed to change opinions into a collective idea. The main aim of this paper is to provide an in-depth understanding of the difficulties, action steps and countermeasures that are inherent in the Delphi technique. It should, however, be noted that this study does not claim to be authoritative; rather its scope is to be a guide for most analysts who wish to understand fully the Delphi technique.

The Delphi technique as a forecasting tool: issues and analysis, Rowe, G., & Wright, G. (1999). International journal of forecasting15(4), 353-375. Empirical studies which test for the effectiveness of the Delphi technique were carried out in this paper. According to the result obtained, the Delphi groups surpass the statistical group and the standard interacting group. Although there is no tangible evidence that the technique surpasses the other group procedures. This paper, however, notes an important difference that exists between the Delphi technique and the other methods which made the general belief of the Delphi technique “difficult” ascertained. This study concludes that the Delphi technique’s effectiveness should be questioned but from a different perspective which includes focusing on an analysis of the process of change in judgments with nominal groups.

Delphi: a technique to harness expert opinion for critical decision‐making tasks in education, Clayton, M. J. (1997). Educational Psychology17(4), 373-386. According to this study, the decisions as regards the development of educational policies are based on the following characteristics and they include; issues relating to the professional development of teachers, the most effective and efficient way to deliver the services and the sharing of the limited educational resources are all examples which require reasoning as well as critical evaluation. This paper also reviews the basic reasoning behind the Delphi procedures and provides a logical solution for its use; describes some basic features and provides an indication of both present and past uses.


Theory and applications of the Delphi technique: A bibliography (1975–1994), Gupta, U. G., & Clarke, R. E. (1996). Technological forecasting and social change53(2), 185-211. This study believes that the Delphi technique is a well-known technique and as result of this since the technique was born in the early 1950s at the Rand Corporation, several variations of the Delphi technique has evolved all in a bid to meet the outstanding uniqueness in the forecasting activities carried out by different decision makers. This paper, however, concludes with a comment on the Delphi technique that is totally useful for practitioners, researchers, analysts and economists in an effective and efficient qualitative forecasting.

International students, learning environments and perceptions: A case study using the Delphi technique, Robertson, M., Line, M., Jones, S., & Thomas, S. (2000). Higher Education Research & Development19(1), 89-102. According to this research paper, the Delphi technique was used to solve problems that are seen as narrowed consensus. Judging from research carried out in an Australian University, some unexpected and expected results were analyzed. Although, several difficulties such as the cost of tuitions, feeling of isolation and difficulty in understanding colloquial languages were seen as the topmost cited hurdles by most international students. In a nutshell, this paper explains the learning environments and perceptions of an international student by making use of the Delphi technique.

Expert opinions in forecasting: the role of the Delphi technique, Rowe, G., & Wright, G. (2001). In Principles of forecasting(pp. 125-144). Springer, Boston, MA. According to this study, it is pertinent to have an in-depth understanding of the Delphi technique before thinking about adopting the method. Also, one major way in which forecast can be gotten by eliciting and judging of the expert’s hypothesis was discussed in this paper. Some various principles which explain why experts make use of the Delphi technique in forecasting were also explained in this paper. The Delphi groups are regarded as substantially more accurate compared to individual experts and traditional groups. By following the rules explained in this paper, forecasters should be able to make use of the structured group to explore an effective expert opinion.

Using experts’ opinions through the Delphi technique, Yousuf, M. I. (2007). Practical assessment, research & evaluation12(4), 1-8. In this study, experts’ opinions as regards the Delphi technique were explained thoroughly. Some important properties of the Delphi technique which include an essential feedback system, the experts involved and the communication process were all explained in this paper. The weaknesses, as well as the strength of the Delphi technique, were also considered in this research paper after which the uses and the consensus among participant have been discussed.

Delphi technique: Expanding applications., Brooks, K. W. (1979). North Central Association Quarterly53(3), 377-85. This paper investigates the various aspects in which the Delphi technique can be extended to and how it can fit in in that sector. However, the Delphi technique according to this paper was defined as an elicit approach which can be used to redefine opinions of a group of people. The steps and processes involved in the Delphi technique were analyzed and illustrations as to how these processes can be evaluated were illustrated. This paper also explains how this method can be used to determine a school’s (college) future research needs as well as identifying administrative problems of an economy.

The Delphi technique: An experimental evaluation, Riggs, W. E. (1983). Technological forecasting and social change23(1), 89-94. In this research paper, the Delphi accuracy was given rapt attention because most academic papers only explain the Delhi technique neglecting the Delphi accuracy. The aim of this paper was to examine the accuracy of the Delphi and that of the conference method which was used in making long-range forecasts, according to the result obtained from this study, it claims that the Delphi method’s accuracy outpaces that of the conference methods for long-range forecasting.


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