Ranajit Bandyopadhyay John F Leslie and Richard A Frederiksen

The Nominal Group technique was used as the discussion format for small group discussions during a conference in Accra sponsored by the MycoGlobe project of the European Union, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, INTSORMIL and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (Ghana). This chapter is based on these group discussions. The Nominal Group technique was originally developed for enhancing the productivity of work conferences and has its roots in social-psychological studies of decision conferences, management science studies of pooled group judgments, and social work studies on program planning (Delbecq et al., 1975). The three most widespread applications of the Nominal Group technique are identifying problems, developing solutions, and establishing priorities. Recently, the Nominal Group technique has gained extensive recognition and wide application in conferences scheduled by health, social service, education, industrial and governmental organizations (Potter et al., 2004). A few agriculture-related conferences also have used the Nominal Group technique (Durbin et al., 1980; Mughogho, 1984; Leslie and Frederiksen, 1995).

The Nominal Group technique is an effective "face-to-face" discussion procedure for developing a large number of new or unique ideas and for increasing the total number of high-quality ideas proposed. A single train of thought is avoided in discussions that use the Nominal Group technique since the discussion format is tightly defined. Unlike many other decision-making processes, the Nominal Group technique avoids peer pressure that may keep some individuals from freely expressing their ideas thereby inhibiting their participation in making creative decisions. The Nominal Group technique allows minority opinions and ideas to be heard and integrated into the conclusions whenever valid. Finally, all participants have an equal opportunity to influence the direction of the group's decisions. This method enhances freedom for group discussion, avoids making "quick" decisions, and improves the quality of the proposals finally made. Good ideas are not lost in the progress of discussions, and adequate time is allocated for each suggestion.

The amount and quality of preparation prior to the meeting determines the efficiency and constructiveness of the Nominal Group technique. The participants need to be provided with relevant background material and an understanding of the desired outcomes. It is necessary to focus on a small number of key questions and to follow a strict pattern of procedure throughout the meeting.

© CAB International 2008. Mycotoxins: Detection Methods, Management, Public Health - 19 -and Agricultural Trade (eds. J. F. Leslie et al.).

Table 1. Nominal group responses by two groups to the statement, "How can health issues related to mycotoxin exposure in Africa be mitigated?"
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