DSS News 
                    D. J. Power, Editor 
              April 13, 2003 -- Vol. 4, No. 8 
       A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 


Call for Papers: Special issue of DSS Journal on Web-based
Decision Support. Contact,



* Ask Dan! - Can using a DSS have unintended negative 
* Call for Papers: Web-based Decision Support
* What's New at DSSResources.COM 
* DSS News Releases 


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Ask Dan!

Can using a DSS have unintended negative consequences?
by Dan Power

YES! Researchers and managers often focus too much on the anticipated 
positive consequences of using a specific Decision Support System. 
Nadeeka Silva emailed me recently (3/14/2003) asking for some help in 
answering some provocative questions about unintended negative 
consequences of DSS. I'm assuming Nadeeka is taking a DSS class so I'm 
broadening the assignment questions and responding publicly in this Ask 
Dan! column. My answer is a starting point that leaves many 
opportunities for Nadeeka and Ask Dan! readers to extend the analysis.

The first "assignment" question states "The best DSS cannot overcome a 
faulty decision maker. It cannot force a decision maker to make a 
request of it, pay attention to its responses, or properly factor its 
responses into the decision that is made. Do you agree with this 
statement? Justify your answer."

I generally agree with the statement. It points out that a DSS cannot 
completely overcome the ability and attitude limitations of the person 
who is using it. We are all "faulty decision makers". Each of us makes 
some bad, wrong or incorrect decisions even when supported by a DSS. A 
task specific Decision Support System is intended to increase the 
quality and effectiveness of a specific decision or decisions. A 
well-designed DSS has the potential to assist those decisions makers who 
can and do use it. A DSS can improve a decision maker's "batting 
average". In some situations a decision maker learns from using a DSS 
about criteria, facts or process issues that need to be considered in a 
specific decision situation. DSS encourage and promote "rationality" in 
decision making. The goals of a DSS are not however always achieved! So 
what is the correct conclusion? Companies and individuals that don't 
recognize the limitations of DSS and of decision makers will be 
surprised when a DSS doesn't improve decision making for some users. 
Even though it is an unintended negative consequence, some decision 
makers may actually be hindered by a DSS and a poorly designed DSS can 
negatively impact even the "best" decision maker.

Another "assignment question" also raises the issue of unintended 
consequences of using a DSS. The question states "There is a DSS danger: 
the danger of overdependence on a DSS, of blindly following the DSS, or 
of interacting with it in an entirely mechanical and unimaginative 
fashion. Do you agree with this statement?  Justify your answer."

Many people believe the above statement is true and it seems reasonable 
that these "dangers" can and do happen.  I am not however aware of 
empirical research that confirms these "dangers". We don't know how 
likely "overdependence" is, or if some users will "blindly follow" or 
mechanically interact with some or all types of DSS. I'm assuming 
"overdependence" means a person can not make a specific decision without 
using a DSS. For many DSS, the intent is that users will become 
"dependent" on using it. If decisions are improved, then the goal of 
training, reinforcements and rewards should be to promote regular and 
habitual use of the DSS. Managers and DSS users who recognize the 
"dangers" are sensitized to them and that makes the "dangers" less 
likely to occur or less likely to cause harm. DSS are intended to 
support not replace decision makers so users need to consciously 
interact with a DSS to use it effectively. The expectation needs to be 
created that the human decision maker is the ultimate authority and that 
the user can "over rule" or choose to ignore analyses and 
recommendations of the DSS. The "dangers" raised in this question 
warrant our attention and certainly they should be studied, but they do 
not justify avoiding the use of a DSS or rejecting a proposed DSS 

So how would you answer these "assignment" questions and in particular 
how would you justify your answers? Can you provide any evidence to 
support your conclusions? As always, I welcome your comments.


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Call for Papers: Web-based Decision Support

Special issue of the journal Decision Support Systems will focus on 
research on web-based decision support. Guest editors for the special 
issue are Hemant K. Bhargava, Pennsylvania State University, Daniel J. 
Power, University of Northern Iowa, and Daewon Sun, Pennsylvania State 
University . Please email Daewon Sun ( of your plans to 
submit a paper by May 31, 2003. Final papers are due September 30, 2003.


Check the case "Estimating Software Yields Higher Profits at 
 Liberty Brass" by TechComm Associates at DSSResources.COM


What's New at DSSResources.COM 

04/04/2003 Posted TechComm Associates Staff, "Estimating software yields 
higher profits at Liberty Brass", Micro Estimating Systems, 2001. 


DSS News Releases - March 31 to April 11, 2003

04/11/2003 Documentum wins three awards at AIIM 2003. 

04/10/2003 Intergraph announces new GeoMedia Software subscription 

04/10/2003 SAIC team wins Army live training transformation program. 

04/10/2003 IDC says Oracle is clear leader in the global geospatial 
database management market. 

04/09/2003 ePocrates delivers clinical information to the point of care 
on the Pocket PC. 

04/09/2003 Crystal Decisions unveils Crystal Analysis Professional 9. 

04/08/2003 ProClarity's Enterprise Analytics grow revenue and reduce 
costs for leading retailers and consumer packaged goods companies. 

04/08/2003 Comshare customers share the real-world value of Corporate 
Performance Management at International Business Conference.

04/08/2003 Leading soft drinks company Britvic adopts MicroStrategy BI 
platform as its enterprise standard.

04/08/2003 Polycom to demo recently announced breakthrough new products 
and interoperability solutions at FOSE Show. 

04/08/2003 Sun increases affordability of network computer with new sub 
$3,000 SPARC/Solaris servers.

04/07/2003 RSA Security and Documentum team to deliver secure content 
collaboration across the extended enterprise.

04/07/2003 Intergraph software grant promotes growth of GIS and 
geospatial practices at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. 

04/07/2003 Encoda Systems chooses MicroStrategy for media industry's 
first integrated web-based advertising analytics tool.

04/07/2003 FNIS announces FNIS HQ Score(TM) - a revolutionary predictive 
collateral score solution for risk management. 

04/07/2003 Questerra delivers location-enabled insurance solution for 
risk management, underwriting and reporting. 

04/04/2003 IBM announces industry's first blueprint for managing complex 
computing environments.

04/04/2003 Who Is the Greatest, Nicklaus or Woods? Crystal Ball 
Forecasting Software Knows!

04/03/2003 Participate in Information Architecture Team Data Quality 

04/02/2003 ProClarity Announces 4th Annual Worldwide Conference; 
Maastricht, The Netherlands, May 19 - 21, 2003. 

04/02/2003 Hyperion extends its Business Performance Management 
leadership with solutions for financial and operational decision makers. 

04/01/2003 Cognos and IBM expand relationship to deliver business 
intelligence solutions worldwide. 

04/01/2003 Real-time business intelligence takes off at Forward Air with 
Appfluent technology.

03/28/2003 Call for Papers: Special issue of DSS Journal on Web-based
Decision Support.


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