Are cognitive and social factors sufficient to explain the acceptance of decision aiding processes within organisations?.
This research extends the limited existing research into the acceptance of decision aids by
considering this in an organisational, rather than personal, context. This led to the thesis having
a theory-building bias as it was not clear at the outset what a decision aid in an organisation
consists of, what the main influences on acceptance would be, nor how to conduct such an
The potential influences were identified as the extent of agreement within the organisation with
the way in which the decision aid represented the basic problem, and this was argued to form
the cognitive and social/actors. The expectation was to find an association between the level
of intra-organisational agreement and either acceptance or rejection of the decision aid if they
are the sole cause. Other potential influences include the type of problem (especially whether
maintenance of the status-quo is an option), the approach to decision aiding in use, and other
Decision aiding in organisations was linked with approaches to organisational planning,
whether or not this included significant use ofIT. Such approaches involve constructing a
problem representation and testing the implications of potential solutions. From this
perspective, it was possible to see some of the influences on the acceptance of a decision aid as
those which will affect any decision whether aided or not.
The empirical work was designed to disentangle these effects by concentrating on the degree of
intra-organisational agreement and using case-studies to capture any other factors which
The findings were that intra-organisational agreement, continuation of the status-quo and
external constraints all influenced acceptance. However, there was no simple relationship
between the cognitive and social factors and acceptance.