Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 5 Number 1 1988 pp. 51-65

User Prescriptions of Decision Support System Restrictiveness: An Experiment

Silver, Mark S

ABSTRACT: We often think of decision support systems (DSS) simply as expanding managerial information-processing capabilities. When a manager relies on the functional capabilities of a particular DSS in solving a problem, however, he or she is actually restricted to some subset of the full range of possible decision-making processes. DSS builders may wish to use this "restrictiveness" characteristic as a design variable, deliberately choosing the ways in which a DSS restricts its users. To do so effectively, builders need to know whether restrictiveness should be treated as an absolute or a relative; attribute. A key research question, therefore, is whether all users will be restricted identically by a given DSS. This paper reports on an experiment exploring if and how different users of the same DSS differ in their perceptions of system restrictiveness. Subjects used three DSS and ranked them from most to least restrictive. The results indicated that, while there was a significant similarity among rankings, there were also substantial differences. Several factors contributing to the perceptual differences were identified; these can serve as the basis for further research.

Key words and phrases: decision support systems, user perception of information systems, system restrictiveness