On evaluating the performance of problem structuring methods: an attempt at formulating a conceptual model
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SourceGroup Decision and Negotiation, 18, 6, (2009), pp. 567-587
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ NISCO SOC
Group Decision and Negotiation
In the past decade there has been a discussion on the need for and degree of empirical evidence for the effectiveness of problem structuring methods (PSMs). Some authors propose that PSMs are used in unique situations which are difficult to study, both from a methodological and a practical perspective. In another view experimental validation is necessary and, if not obtained, PSMs remain substantially invalidated and thus ‘suspect’ with regard to their claims of effectiveness. Both views agree on one point: the necessity of being clear about the important factors in the context in which a method is used, the method’s aims and its essential elements through which these aims are achieved. A clear formulation of central variables is the core of a theoretical validation, without which empirical testing of effects is impossible. Since the process of PSMs is sometimes referred to as ‘more art than science’, increased clarity on the PSM process also supports the transfer of methods. In this article we consider goals important to most PSMs, such as consensus and commitment. We then focus on outcomes of group model building, and expectations on how context and group modeling process contributes to outcomes. Next we discuss the similarity of these central variables and relations to two sets of theories in social psychology: the theory of planned behavior and dual process theories of persuasion. On the basis of these theories we construct a preliminary conceptual model on group model building effectiveness and address its practical applicability for research on PSM.
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