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Title: The support of group decision making using judgemental modelling : an exploration of the contribution of behavioural factors
Author: Proudlove, Nathan Charles
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1999
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The dominant paradigms in the decision supporting disciplines of operational research (OR) and group decision support systems (GDSS) have a unitary and functionalist outlook, and believe they design group decision support processes that promote procedural rationality through reducing group process losses. Though potentially very valuable, insights from the behavioural sciences have not been much investigated by group decision support researchers. Past investigations into the effects of individual differences have produced ambiguous and contradictory results, probably as a result of using inappropriate theory and instruments. Issues of plurality of interests, power and conflict have not been given much consideration within the dominant paradigms. Also, despite imposing structured support processes on groups of decision makers, the effects of these support processes on group dynamics and group development have received very little attention. This thesis describes the use of multiattribute decision making (MADM) software, the Judgemental Analysis System (JAS), as part of a longitudinal group decision support process intended to help decision makers explore and develop preferences. Though all steps are not computer-supported, the process can be thought of as very similar in use and effect to a GDSS. Measures to indicate individual and group behaviours are derived from the MADM data. Multidimensional scaling is used to produce perceptual maps to explore and demonstrate these behaviours. The cognitive style of decision makers is assessed using the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI), and interpersonal influence data collected using questionnaires. Changes in perceptions are found to decrease in magnitude over the course of the JAS process, suggesting that the decision makers are developing clearer perspectives on the problem. Group consensus is found to increase over the JAS process, particularly at the early stages. Investigations into this suggest that this may (in part) be a manifestation of 'Groupthink' and similar phenomena that lead members of groups to conform, avoiding dissent at the cost of reducing the quality of the process and its outcome. This suggests that more effort should be made in the support process to guard against such confounds to rationality. Group members perceived to be influential by the rest of the group are found to be affecting the perspectives of the group as whole. Before the implications for the decision support process can be determined, further research is required to investigate the grounds for this influence. The effects of interpersonal influence are not evident at the level of the behaviour of the individual decision makers. No relationships are found between behaviour and individual or group (aggregated) level cognitive style. This is an important finding and lends weight to arguments that the knowledge from the behavioural sciences concerning this aspect of individual difference need not be incorporated into the type of OR and GDSS studied here. However, this type of investigation leads to consideration of interpersonal (i.e. grouplevel) processes such as group development. The required deeper investigation into such pluralistic ideas from the behavioural sciences represents a major challenge for OR and GDSS, but one with potentially very fruitful results for the improved support of group decision making.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available