Towards a Decision Support System for wicked problems: A literature analysis

Pretorius, Carianne (2016-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well-informed just to be undecided about them (Conklin, 2001, p. 1) Wicked problems are complex and challenging to solve. This is partially due to changing requirements in the problem definition, as well as the fact that proposed and implemented solutions are generally significant in effect and irreversible in nature. In contexts where the consequences of a solution to a wicked problem are comprehended as being critical to an organisation's survival, such firms may elect to build or acquire a decision support system (DSS) to assist decision makers with the vital task of resolving such problems. DSSs have been shown to provide some benefit to users by neutralising cognitive biases as well as improving effectiveness and efficiency of decision making. However, it has been argued that traditional variants of these tools are seldom appropriate for addressing wicked problems, and as such, an alternative approach to solving wicked problems is required to that of typical decision making problems. The conceptualisation of procedural rationality as a suitable underlying approach for support of wicked problems has been argued in a number of studies. Such research asserts that the approach focusing on the process of decision making as opposed to the substance of the decision process. In order to investigate the nature of wicked problems and decision support in these contexts, a primarily qualitative literature study was completed. Literature was collected systematically by making use of keyword search, backward search, and forward search. Studies were further analysed to ensure that they explicitly addressed the notion of wicked problems and decision support utilising any combination of theoretical or empirical approaches. The final literature sample consisted of 35 peer-reviewed journal articles from a number of subject areas. The quantitative element of the literature study found that empirical case studies are the most common research design in this research area, followed by appliedconcept theoretical studies. It was also discovered that strategic, business, and organisational planning problems, along with environmental and natural resource planning problems, are the most frequently addressed wicked problem in the literature sample. Finally, the quantitative analysis found that procedural approaches to decision support for wicked problems are the most prevalent in the literature, consisting of almost two thirds of all studies included in the sample. Qualitative analysis of the literature sample uncovered a number of requirements for wicked problems in the context of DSSs. Examples of common characteristics include tools for collaboration, negotiation, flexible exploration of the decision space, and facilitation of organisational memory through storage and retrieval of previous deliberations. Finally, the outcomes of all of the previous phases of the study were integrated and a model for procedural DSSs was synthesised, comprising perspectives regarding architecture, evolutionary design and development, the decision process for procedural decision making, and the characteristics of inquiring organisations which are argued to be the organisational perspective most suitable for procedural DSSs.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Wicked probleme is kompleks en moeilik om op te los. Die voortdurende verandering van probleem-definisie sowel as die beduidende en onomkeerbare impak van oplossings vir wicked probleme is twee faktore wat die uitdagingsvlak vererg. Gevalle waar die oorlweing van 'n organisasie afhang van sy vermoë om 'n wicked probleem op to los; mag die organisasie kies om 'n Besluit Ondersteuningstelsel (BO) te bou of te benut. Dit is al bewys dat BOs besluitnemers bevoordeel deur kognitiewe vooroordeling te versag, effektiwiteit van besluitneming te verhoog en doeltreffendheid te verbeter. In teenstryding, is dit voorgesit dat tradisionele BOs weinig 'n goeie oplossing of ondersteuningsmiddel vir wicked probleme bied. Dus word daar ondersoek vir alternatiewe benaderings tot die ontwerp van 'n BO, in die konteks van wicked probleme, ingestel. Die konseptualisering van prosedurele rasionaliteit is al in verskeie studies voorgesit as 'n goeie onderliggende benadering tot wicked probleem ondersteuning. These studies assert that the approach focusing on the process of decision making as opposed to the substance of the decision process. Die ondersoek van BOs in die konteks van wicked probleme is deur middel van 'n kwalitatiewe literatuur studie gedoen. Relevante literatuur is versamel deur sleutelwoord-soektogte, agtertoe-soektogte en voorwaardse-soektogte. Die studies is deursoek vir uitdruklike behandeling van BOs en wicked probleme voordat hulle as relevant gekeur kon word. Beide teoretieseen empiriese studie benaderings is ingesluit. Die finale versameling van literatuur bestaan uit 35 joernaal artikels. Die kwantitatiewe elemente in die literatuur studie dui daarop aan dat empiriese gevallestudies die mees algemene navorsingsontwerp in dié veld is - dit word gevolg deur teoretiese, toegepaste-konsepstudies. Die studies het ook daarop aangedui dat strategiese, besigheids, organisatoriese, omgewings en natuurlike hulpbron beplanningsprobleme die mees algemeen is. Laastens het die kwantitatiewe analise gevind dat prosedurele benaderings tot besluit ondersteuning vir wicked probleme die meeste voorkom in die literatuur monster, wat amper twee derdes van die literatuur monster uitmaak. Kwalitatiewe ontleding van die literatuur monster ontbloot 'n aantal vereistes vir wicked probleme in die konteks van BOs. Voorbeelde van algemene kenmerke sluit in hulpmiddels vir samewerking, onderhandeling, buigbare verkenning van die besluit ruimte, en fasilitering van organisatoriese geheue deur middel van die stoor en herwinning van die vorige redenasie prosesse. Ten slotte, die uitkomste van al die vorige fases van die tesis is geïntegreer en 'n model vir prosedurele BOs is gesintetiseer, insluitend perspektiewe met betrekking tot argitektuur, evolusion^ere ontwerp en ontwikkeling, die besluit proses vir prosedurele besluitneming, en die eienskappe van navraende organisasies wat aangevoer is as die organisatoriese perspektief mees geskik vir prosedurele BOs.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98530
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