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id ddss9498
authors Vriens, Dirk and Hendriks, Paul
year 1994
title Functionally Defining Systems: A Systems Theory Approach to Decision Support
source Second Design and Decision Support Systems in Architecture & Urban Planning (Vaals, the Netherlands), August 15-19, 1994
summary Research into decision making seems to suffer from two related weaknesses. The first is lack of attention for the dynamic nature of the decision process and environment. Research attempts to encompass dynamic features are sparse. The second weakness is the allegation that decision alternatives can be discerned on an a priori basis, thus facilitating the use of a choice rule to pick the 'optimal' or 'satisficing' alternative (this is the basic assumption of the prevailing rationalistic approach of decision modelling). However, the assumption of an a priori conception of alterna-tives is not realistic, since it ignores the fact that the exploration and elaboration of alternatives forms an integral part of the decision process. Although several attempts have been made to overcome these problems, a coherent theory seems to be lacking. This paper explores the possibilities of systems theory as an offset for new decision modelling. A system (in the cybernet-ic sense) is, roughly speaking, a collection of elements related in such a manner that emergent properties (i.e., properties that consist the level of the whole, not at the level of its parts) come about. There are many different approaches to systems theory and not all of these are equally useful for decision research. For our purposes, systems that have 'adaptive' properties are worthwhile because they may encompass dynamic features. Furthermore, the use of adaptive, dynamic systems leads to a solution for the problem of the 'disembodied' conception and choice of alternatives, since the choice options automatically follow from the defined system and may change because of its dynamic nature. The important question is how a system can be defined in order to capture the dynamic nature of decision making. In order to answer this question, the paper starts with a short overview of problems with traditional modelling in decision making and systems theory. Next, it will be argued that the crux of defining systems that capture dynamics is to define them 'functionally', i.e. regarding the goals that enter the decision process. An outline of a method to do this will be given. In the last part, the consequences for computerized decision support will be stated.
series DDSS
references Content-type: text/plain
last changed 2003/08/07 14:36
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