Decision Support Systems Wisdom

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Wildavsky, 1983

Aaron Wildavsky studied budgeting and the use of information in organizations. His findings emphasize the need for Decision Support Systems and the difficulty in constructing them. In a 1983 article, Wildavsky concludes "The very structure of organizations -- the units, the levels, the hierarchy -- is designed to reduce data to manageable and manipulatable proportions. ... at each level there is not only compression of data but absorption of uncertainty. It is not the things in themselves but data-reduction summaries that are passed up until, at the end, executives are left with mere chains of inferences. Whichever way they go, error is endemic: If they seek original sources, they are easily overwhelmed; if they rely on what they get, they are easily misled."

from Wildavsky, A., "Information as an Organizational Problem," Journal of Management Studies, January, 1983, p. 29.

appeared in DSS News, September 9, 2001, Vol. 2, No. 19