Design Theory, Dialectic, Multiple perspectives, Decision Support Systems


As organizations continue to grow in size, reaching global proportions, they have ever increasing impacts on their environments. Some believe that a much broader array of concerns should be brought into organizational decision-making processes, including greater consideration of social, political, ethical and aesthetic factors (Mitroff and Linstone, 1993; Courtney, 2001). Decision environments such as these are decidedly "wicked" (Rittel and Webber, 1973). Designing decision support systems in such environments where there is a high level of interconnectedness, issues are overlapping and a multiplicity of stakeholders is involved, is a very complex task. In this dissertation a methodology for the development of a DSS for wicked situations is proposed using the design theory building process suggested by Walls et al. (1992). This proposed theory is based on dialectic theory and the multiple perspective approach suggested by Linstone and Mitroff (1993). The design process consists of identifying relevant stakeholders, their respective worldviews, and conflicts in these worldviews. A design (thesis) and "counter design" (antithesis) are created, and a prototype systems based on these designs are developed. These prototypes are then presented to the different stakeholder groups who engage in a dialogue which leads to the development of a synthesized design. The process is repeated until all conflicts are resolved or resources are exhausted, and a final system is produced. Using action research and system development research methodologies, the proposed design theory was applied to zoning decision process in Orange County, Florida. The results of this study led to the following: 1. It is feasible to implement the MPDP methodology proposed in this dissertation. 2. The MPDP methodology resulted in a synthesized design that accommodates the different views of the stakeholders. 3. The MPDP methodology is suitable for contentious situations and may not be feasible for structured decisions. 4. Most of the subjects did achieve a more understanding of the decision process. These results suggest that the MPDP design theory can be effective in developing decision support systems in contentious situations.


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Graduation Date





Courtney, James


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Business Administration


Management Information Systems

Degree Program

Business Administration








Release Date

January 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)