1992 - Decision Support Systems: Experiences and Expectations

Fontainebleau, France, 30 June-3 July

Proceedings edited by M.T. Jelassi, M.R. Klein & W.M. Mayon-White.

Title Pages
Alter, S.

This paper presents many direct and indirect arguments concerning the limited usefulness today of the once innovative concept of DSS as a fundamental idea for either research or practice. "Improving decision making" is a more fundamental idea, and an idea that practicing managers and users really care about.

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Moore, S. A., Kimbrough, S. O. and Monaghan, J. X.

This paper discusses Fleet Mix, a decision support system (DSS) we have developed for the United States Coast Guard (USCG). It examines the methodology used, the reasoning that led to the methodology, the program itself, the development process, and the technology that allowed the efficient development of this program. We discuss our preliminary findings that 1) the methodology seems sound and is amenable to changes in focus and scope, 2) the program is useful and has been amenable to change, and 3) the development approach used was vital to the success of the program.

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Humphreys, P. and Berkeley, D.

This paper describes SASOS, an interactive computer-based system supporting analysts in embedding knowledge about an organisation (as is, as might be) in decision making on change, where knowledge generation, elicitation and synthesis, decision making and implementation of changes all comprise processes distributed throughout the organisation involving participants with differing roles and responsibilities. SASOS can guide the investigation and model building process within practical, systems-based analyses of organisational situations, problems and change option implementation. It offers a knowledge representation schema unifying hypertext, entity-relationship modelling and Petri-net theory. It has the ability to present a desired view on this schema in a language (visual and textual) with which the user is familiar. It provides views which are always in accordance with the user's immediate needs in the model generation and problem solving process. SASOS can help organisational analysts in their work by (i) providing structured information about the organisation which can be created, updated, and reviewed by the analyst and organisational personnel alike; (ii) providing modelling facilities in using this structured information to present views of the organisational reality bringing together diverse aspects of what is known about the organisation which may be relevant in handling a particular problem or exploring the basis of a complaint about organisational functioning; (iii) providing simulation facilities for the analyst to try out various changes in the structure of this reality and discover their side-effects, thus enabling informed decisions to be taken concerning the implementation of these changes.

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Zuurbier, J. J.

Research on decision support system (DSS) design has over the years shifted its focus from the technological to the organizational. However relatively little attention has been given to the design of a group DSS to support a social group. While recognizing the contributions of earlier researchers on DSS design, we propose using a social orientation in order to link the information technology system to the informal/social system. We advocate semantic analysis using NORMA and norm analysis using LEGOL. The applicability of this approach will be tested in ongoing research at the Faculty of Management Science, University of Twente, on the development of group decision support systems for budgeting.

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Vari, A., Rohrbaugh, J. and Baaklini, A. I.

Decision conferencing is a particular type of group decision support system, developed for supporting the work of face-to-face groups on strategic organizational problems. One successful area of decision conferencing has been in information systems planning. The paper describes an application aimed at identifying the information needs of the newly elected Hungarian Parliament. The conference brought together a select group of legislators and administrative staff to define and prioritize the needs of the Parliament for information services. First, the participants collected proposals for information services. Next, a resource allocation model was developed and applied to rank order the information services on the basis of their weighted benefits. Finally, sensitivity analyses were conducted to explore the impacts of divergent views. The decision led to a consensus among the participants on information priorities. The case demonstrates the merits of decision conferencing in information systems planning, and the potential for application in a wide variety of problems faced by legislatures.

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Wagner, C.

The paper first examines why DSS designed for idea generation have not yet reached the sophistication level of “conventional” DSS, focusing on three key components, the model base, data base, and user interface. The paper then proposes three improvements for future DSS: idea generation heuristics, commonsense reasoning mechanisms, and multi-media user interfaces.

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Bíró, M., Bodroghy, E., Bor, A., Knuth, E. and Kovács, L.

The paper discusses the integration of currently commercially available techniques and supporting tools for constructing a specialized groupware application namely a distributed negotiation support system. It presents the different aspects of the integration methods and analyses the actual design of a DIstributed NEgotiation Support Shell (DINE). The DINE model supports simultaneous, multiple issue, independent, peer-to-peer negotiations. It allows the integration of existing negotiation support techniques which, as opposed to DINE, mostly focus on those scenarios where the negotiation issues are shared by all negotiators. The latter techniques will be used to support the independent peer-to-peer negotiations in DINE. Negotiators may in fact use any tool even without DINE, as long as it supports the same peer-to-peer information sharing protocol. At the same time, DINE is a generalized multiple criteria decision making model where the alternatives to be ranked are compound subsets of negotiated offers. DINE naturally integrates asynchronous and synchronous communication facilities, intuitive judgement and deep knowledge based techniques. The initial implementation is based on the Microsoft Windows environment

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Schrijver, P. R. and Sol, H. G.

Looking at the planning department of a road transportation company, several problems can be recognized. Dispatchers do have difficulties with performing their routine administrative tasks and making a trip plan within reasonable time. In this paper, an architecture for a fleet management system for road transportation companies is proposed for solving these problems. This fleet management system integrates a planning support environment with a mobile data communications system. Some experiences and expectations regarding the use of fleet management systems in road transportation business are presented.

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Angehrn, A. A. and Dutta, S.

An important focus in current research on decision support systems (DSS) is the design of flexible environments to facilitate and support learning about the problem domain by the user. This research uses case-based reasoning to present a symbiotic DSS in which both the user and the DSS learn from each other. The user learns from the DSS (from stored prior problem solutions) and the system learns from the user (by observing current problem solving behaviors). The specific context of our research is the class of DSS used for supporting multi-criteria decision making (MCDM). Our ideas are being implemented in a prototype extension of the Triple C MCDSS.

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Bayad, R. and Pomerol, J.-C.

When it becomes necessary to reinforce an urban electrical distribution network, engineers have to choose from among many possible solutions. This paper describes a multicriteria “intelligent” DSS intended to help engineers in their task. The main difficulty is to simulate human reasonings on a network. Here this is performed by an expert system.

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Frowein, J. C. and Postma, T. J. B. M.

Information technology in relation to organizational diagnosis and organizational change is the subject of extensive and increasing discussion. A condition for change is insight into organizational problems. This paper discusses the relation between the concepts “problem”, “decision making” and “organizational diagnosis” and their use in studying organizational change. The paper reports the results of a research project. This project has two main goals: 1. The design, implementation and testing of a DSS for organizational diagnosis. This DSS is especially designed to support the problem recognition and diagnosis activities of a decision-making process. 2. Exploring the possibilities of extending the DSS with support capabilities for the design/analysis activity. It is concluded that to achieve these goals sound and explicable organization theories are needed, which can be implemented in KB-DSS environments. In addition the second goal demands powerful KB-DSS tools to experiment with alternative solutions for organizational problems. An example of a DSS bas been worked out in the field of organizational diagnosis. This prototype DSS, called Support System for Interim Managers, is being developed as a support instrument for organizational diagnosis by interim managers (a special branch of management consultants).

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Basu, A. and Blanning, R. W.

We present a new mathematical structure, called a metagraph, which extends the notion of graphs and hypergraphs in ways that appear useful in enterprise modeling for decision support systems. We begin by examining the use of graphs and hypergraphs in this area. We then introduce metagraphs, and describe enterprise modeling in terms of the construction and manipulation of metagraphs. We demonstrate that metagraphs provide certain capabilities not found in graphs and hypergrapbs, and that graphs and hypergraphs are special cases of metagraphs. Finally, we demonstrate that metagraphs provide a comprehensive framework for viewing problems in information management.

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Marose, R. A., Rothenberg, D. and Sankaran, S.

AUDITCHECK is a statistical based hybrid “neural network” microcomputer system used to analyze the financial statements of firms being audited. Anomalies that are normally undiscernible without extensive field work are identified by models that detect both logical and statistical inconsistencies among income and balance sheet accounts. For each of the major financial statements of the firm, its output includes a measure of the likelihood of a misstatement. It produces a measure of the likelihood of a misstatement in the financial account as well as an explanation of the logic underlying its assessment. AUDITCHECK it is being used by field auditors of a “Big Six” accounting firm which has requested that its name be withheld from publication for competitive reasons.

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Rajkovič, V., Bohanec, M., Leskošek, B. and Šturm, J.

A system for advising children in choosing sport branches is presented in the paper. The system is based on DEX, a specialized expert system shell for multi-attribute decision making. The shell helps human experts to articulate and evaluate their knowledge about talented children for different sports and disciplines. Different knowledge representation and explanation facilities of the system support knowledge communication among experts for different sport branches. The goal of the system is not only to acquire proper knowledge and ensure its maintenance, but also to provide fruitful information for children, their families and schools to select appropriate sports in terms of good results and personal satisfaction in the broadest sense.

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Wang, Z.-M.

Based on the Human-Computer Interface Hierarchy Model and experiments on decision support for decisions on management systems development in Chinese enterprises, the Pathfinder networks of knowledge structures among twenty managers (experts) and forty students (novices) were identified in relation to three levels of decision support information. It was shown that the knowledge structure of managers was better networked around the key concepts of the interface hierarchy, whereas students’ knowledge structures were more in the chain shape with different key concepts. A process model of multi-level decision support was built up with a key dimension of the compatibility between levels of decision support information and types of knowledge networks. The effects of multi-level decision support information on decision information-processing were discussed and the implications to the design of intelligent decision systems design highlighted.

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Baugh, P. J. and Walters, D. M.

This article discusses the impact that the introduction of Organisation Change is likely to have on the use of Decision Support Systems within the National Health Service (NHS). This is discussed in the light of recent Government changes in the structure of the NHS, using the socio-technical systems approach as the method of analysis.

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Ruohonen, M. and Salmela, H.

It has been proposed that the structure for an organization is dependent on its strategy; strategy drives the structure. On the other hand strategy attempts to align an organization with its environment and a change in strategy requires a change in administrative structure and also in formal information systems (IS). Rockart and Scott-Morton have proposed that information technology (IT) may have an essential role in organizational change. However, only a few researchers have studied MIS/DSS in the context of organizational development. If an organizational imperative or even emergent perspective is adopted, it leads to the consideration of the use of IT in the context of organization development (OD). At present organizations are developing their strategies for the 1990’s which demand structural changes or at least development of the organization’s control and decision making processes. The essential point is that the changes also affect the information needs of organizational actors. Thus, organizational change quite often requires the existing IS to be reconstructed or even replaced. For MIS/DSS development the establishment of new information channels offers a challenging task. In this study a process approach to the analysis of the relationship of OD and MIS/DSS development is applied. The organizational change forces in a Finnish public sector organization is observed in a longitudinal manner. In the first phase of this study the authors’ role was to assist in aligning the planning of a single information system – Workplace Information System (WIS) – with other organizational change processes. Empirical data was gathered through action research. One of the most important findings of this study was that new WIS options were created through organizational learning. Both the researchers and organizational actors learned to focus on WIS as an opportunity for organizational change. Organizational change should be explicated or at least carefully discussed during the IS development process.

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Holtham, C.

This paper focuses on the following issues: 1. The relevance of models of management which go beyond the planning and control pyramid, especially those which explicitly address networking and communications-related aspects of top management roles. 2. The extent to which there may be different styles of information processing by top managers (“serial” and “parallel”) 3. The development of a prototype ‘top manager workstation’. 4. Directions for future development and research.

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Coelho, H., Gaspar, G. and Ramos, I.

Artificial creatures, the so-called autonomous and intelligent agents, have independent lives and keep together by knowledge exchange through communication. The interaction behind relies on a message sending mechanism, and it is limited by each agent’s architecture. Therefore, the set of features that describe the agent’s mental model constrains the interaction variety in any multi-agent world. These ideas have been studied along ten years having the building services industry in background, and several pathways were drawn between science and practice. The resulting exploration map illustrates the struggle within AI for understanding the nature of an agent’s mind with communication and decision abilities.

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Volonino, L., Robinson, S. and Watson, H. J.

The need for innovation, flexibility, and adaptability has fostered significant changes in information system requirements, particularly those that are hosted on information technology (IT) infrastructures. Attempts to respond to these competitive needs in dynamic and at times disruptive environments by applying IT is driving dramatic changes in how organizations are designed to conduct business in domestic and transnational markets. The expanding roles of information systems have intensified the long-standing interest in evaluating their implications for organizational design. One technology that has changed the distribution of authority, management control methods, communication processes, and organizational structure is executive information systems (EIS). This paper presents a conceptualization for considering these organizational changes brought about by EIS, examples of change in a variety of organizations, and speculations about future changes.

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