Obstacles to good group decision making

Amanda finds that group decision making has some disadvantages: it is time consuming; it can in some cases stir up conflicts w ithin the group; and decisions can be unduly influenced by dominant members of the group.

Conflict could, in fact, be less than might be expected. Experiments have shown that people will modify their personal judgements to conform to group norms. These arc common attitudes that are developed by a group over a period of time.

You might think that this would tend to moderate the more extreme views that some indiv iduals in the group might hold. In fact, people in groups often make

A different type of participatory decisionmaking might occur when end users are consulted about the way a projected computer system is to operate.

JAD has been already discussed in Chapter 4.

Once established group norms can survive many changes of membership in the group.

decisions that carry more risk than where they have to make the decision on their own. This is know n as the risky shift.

Measures to reduce the disadvantages of group decision making One method of making group decision making more efficient and effective is by training members to follow a set procedure. The Delphi technique endeavours to collate the judgements of a number of experts w ithout actually bringing them face-to-face. Given a problem, the follow ing procedure is carried out:

• the co-operation of a number of experts is enlisted;

• the problem is presented to the experts;

• the experts record their recommendations;

• these recommendations are collated and reproduced;

• the collected responses are recirculated;

• the experts comment on the ideas of others and modify their recommendations if so moved;

• if the leader detects a consensus then the process is stopped, otherwise the comments are recirculated to the experts.

The big problem with this approach used to be that because the experts could be geographically dispersed the process was time consuming.

Exercise 11.6 What developments in information technology would be of particular assistance to use of the Delphi technique?

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