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A Foundation for the Study of Group Decision Support Systems


  • Gerardine DeSanctis

    (Management Sciences Department, University of Minnesota, 271 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455)

  • R. Brent Gallupe

    (School of Business, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6)


Technical developments in electronic communication, computing, and decision support, coupled with new interest on the part of organizations to improve meeting effectiveness, are spurring research in the area of group decision support systems (GDSS). A GDSS combines communication, computing, and decision support technologies to facilitate formulation and solution of unstructured problems by a group of people. This paper presents a conceptual overview of GDSS based on an information-exchange perspective of decision making, Three levels of systems are described, representing varying degrees of intervention into the decision process. Research on GDSS is conceived as evolving over time from the study of simple "shell" systems, consisting of menus of features available for selection by a group, to consideration of sophisticated rule-based systems that enable a group to pursue highly structured and novel decision paths. A multi-dimensional taxonomy of systems is proposed as an organizing framework for research in the area. Three environmental contingencies are identified as critical to GDSS design: group size, member proximity, and the task confronting the group. Potential impacts of GDSS on group processes and outcomes are discussed, and important constructs in need of study are identified.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerardine DeSanctis & R. Brent Gallupe, 1987. "A Foundation for the Study of Group Decision Support Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 33(5), pages 589-609, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:33:y:1987:i:5:p:589-609

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    group decision making; decision support;


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