Title

Formulating the Mess: The Role of Decision Aids in Problem Formulation

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1983

Abstract

Analytic decision aids have been criticized by some practitioners for their inability to address questions of problem formulation. These aids typically begin with the assumption that a problem has been recognized and stated, and that the task of the sequential step-wise analysis process is to indicate the optimal strategy in terms of a specified choice criterion. Writers such as Ackoff, Mason & Mitroff and Raiffa have argued that this approach may lead to solving the wrong problem, particularly when applied to ill-structured, complex organizational decision problems. The purpose of this paper is to provide a more thorough understanding of the nature of problem formulation and the use of techniques for assisting decision-makers in this process. The paper attempts first to develop an understanding of the process of organizational problem formulation through the examination of current literature and research. This is seen to be a necessary prerequisite for discussing the value of decision aids for problem formulation. Second, attention is focused on aids to problem formulation. Included is discussion about the matching of problem to problem type, creativity stimulants, dialectical inquiry and devil's advocate approaches, as well as the role of formal analysis as a stimulant for a policy dialogue process. Finally, the relationships between the various approaches are examined and a synthetic model for their use in problem formulation is suggested.

Discipline

Business

Research Areas

Strategy and Organisation

Publication

Omega-International Journal of Management

Volume

11

Issue

3

First Page

239

Last Page

252

ISSN

0305-0483

Identifier

10.1016/0305-0483(83)90049-X

Publisher

Elsevier

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