Decision-Making in Organizations: A Case Study of the Use of GDSS in University Planning

Decision-Making in Organizations: A Case Study of the Use of GDSS in University Planning

Kathleen M. Golden (Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, USA) and Patricia P. Pineo (Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4478-6.ch015
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Abstract

The use of a collaborative decision-making model has been shown to produce more creative solutions and to increase the size of the stakeholder pool, as well as increase the commitment of stakeholders to final decisions. This study combines the research in group decision-making using the functional theory and the bona fide group perspective along with the large body of research on Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS). The purpose is to assist organizations in both making decisions and understanding the processes used and individuals involved in those decisions. This longitudinal study of one university’s collaboration process presents their multiple planning efforts in accreditation and creating civility. Two participant-observers discuss several bona fide decision making groups across a five-year period along with the application of a GDSS that uses Saaty’s Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to assist in that decision-making. The usefulness of GDSS is discussed and its future applications are suggested.
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Background

The introduction of technology and the Internet age in the 1990’s created new organizational forms (Fulk & Collins-Jarvis, 2001). E-mail increased the level of access of all workers to one another, and tended to democratize the workplace (Deetz, 1992). In this model, rich collaboration was possible, and formalism dissipated. Vastly improved productivity levels in the late 1990’s were associated with this increase in communication applied at every level. Thus, a collaborative decision making model has been increasingly embraced throughout the last decade as a way to bring more complete information to bear on decisions, and to increase ownership of decisions within the organization.

Most research studies of group decision-making have been done using zero-history student laboratory groups meeting for a single time period to solve an artificial problem assigned by the researcher (Frey, 1994). The studies done using various groupware techniques (GDSS or GSS) have reported improvements of 16% in the quality of decision-making. There have been few studies conducted to date, however, on natural groups, termed bona fide groups (Putnam & Stohl, 1990, 1996), but studies that have been conducted demonstrate improvements in the 85% range (Fjermestad & Hiltz, 1998-1999; Rains, 2005). Although these few results are encouraging, there is a need to test these findings by conducting longitudinal studies of bona fide groups and systematically testing the effects of a variety of promising group support tools. Studies of this kind have often not been done because they are costly and require a long-term commitment, as well as long-term access to the studied environment.

The use of a collaborative decision-making model has been shown to produce more creative solutions and to increase the size of the stakeholder pool, as well as increase the commitment of stakeholders to final decisions (Gallupe & DeSanctis, 1988).

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