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Supporting decision analysis : a pragmatic approach

Simpson, Lisa (1998) Supporting decision analysis : a pragmatic approach. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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Decision making is a practical task. Clearly, all aspects of any approach to decision analysis and decision support should be considered with respect to their ease of application as well as their value. The work presented in this thesis is motivated by such a viewpoint. The field of decision analysis is broad, and this is reflected by the consideration of four linked aspects. Cross-sections have been taken through the research literature in an attempt to consider the most important aspects of decision analysis and decision support. These research findings are examined with respect to how things might function in practice. Specifically the aspects which I consider are: a comparison of underlying mathematical theories; the elicitation and application of preference data; facilitation as a group decision support tool; and the development of hypothetical scenarios. The purpose of decision analysis and decision support is to improve problem solving. With a pragmatic approach in mind, two normative models are compared on the basis of the assumptions they make about a decision maker. Further, how these alternative techniques have worked in practice is discussed. In order to make use of such methods, particular data are required. Perhaps a major criticism of decision analysis concerns its use of subjective preference data. Therefore, an investigation of the ease with which these data can be elicited is conducted. The nature of the data is considered via an application. Having concentrated upon decision analysis, i.e. the examination of a formulated problem, I take a broader view of the field by considering decision support. Supporting decision making requires the setting of aims and objectives in addition to establishing a problem model from a problem mess. Supporting a group adds complexity to the analysis's role. Group decision making and group decision support are examined. Particular attention is given to the technique of group facilitation and some pertinent issues for successful decision support are established. In order to strengthen these findings a further study of group decision making is made. Case study work provides a more realistic view of supporting an actual group in a live setting. In addition, I am able to describe the development and use of hypothetical scenarios to promote decision analysis and decision support. Decision analysis and decision support is no different from any other technology in that it is not a 'quick fix'. Users are faced with a learning curve as they are required to approach their problem in a novel way. From an analysis's perspective, the needs of each decision maker may be different, so any technique must be flexible. This thesis demonstrates the ability of both decision makers and analysts to rise to such challenges, resulting in successful applications of decision analysis and support. It also reinforces the value of employing these techniques. Further, I identify aspects which can make this undertaking easier.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Supplied directly by the School of Computing, University of Leeds.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Computing (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.528720
Depositing User: Dr L G Proll
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2011 15:43
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1277

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