the basic concepts Compram method (DeTombe)



The third basic element in the problem handling process is the often-underestimated influence of emotion in the process. Emotions can stimulate or obstruct cooperation between people and between groups. Emotions include anxiety, fear, joy, sympathy and hate. There can be emotions based on prejudice or discrimination. Emotions can be rational or irrational. Emotions appear when one’s interests are threatened, for example when the goal of the management process or the problem itself is undesired.

 Emotions play an important role in the problem handling process of large technological engineering projects from the moment of being aware of the project until the evaluation of the project. The problem-owner, the included and excluded actors all have emotional reactions towards the project. Emotions are included in the ideas about the project, in the goals of the project, in the interaction between the problem handlers, and in the way the actors present their own point of view. Emotion is one of the three basic elements in problem handling, next to knowledge and power. Emotions are provoked when a person’s interest is in danger (Frijda, 1986). Emotions are the defenders of one’s interest. Emotions can form the basis of rational and irrational behavior (Kets de Vries, 1995a). Emotions can be the cause of all kinds of psychological reactions to a project. Dealing with emotions is seldom included explicitly in a problem handling process. Underestimating this element can lead to many interruptions, which, when anticipated, and properly dealt with, can at least be partly be avoided. Emotion can, as a special form of opposition, hold up the project so much that there is no opportunity to finish it. Therefore, one should deal carefully with, and if possible anticipate, emotions in the problem handling process.

 Complex societal problems are handled by teams of people, therefore emotion is the third basic component in handling complex societal problems. Where people are involved emotions are involved. Emotions can stimulate or block certain changes (Kets de Vries, 1995). Emotions play a role or become visible when one’s personal interests are attacked or one feels that one’s personal interests are being attacked (Frijda, 1986). Emotions play a role in reaching a certain goal or being included or excluded in a problem handling process,  or in like and dislike of certain persons in the team or of certain actors. Emotions are also involved in different views on society and prioritizing certain changes.

 Compram deals with emotion by prescribing that the process is led by a well skilled facilitator trained in handling group processes in order to avoid group conflicts. Negative emotions can be provoked by excluding persons or actors from the problem handling process. Including the involved organized and non organized actors at an early stage in the problem handling process can prevent avoidable obstruction.


The method Compram is a method for handling complex societal problems and issues. See for a more detailed description of the Compram approach DeTombe, 1994; DeTombe, 2003).

Prof. Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe
Founder and Chair International - , Euro - , West-Euro- & Dutch Operational Research Research Group Methodology of Societal Complexity
Sichuan University, Chengdu, P.R. China
Chair International Research Society on Methodology of Societal Complexity
多莉恩·德通教授 华人民共和国四川省成都市 一环南路一段24 四川大学
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, EuropeTel: +31 20 6927526