From radical movement to organizational mainstream: A behavioral economics perspective on DSS history

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Decision support systems (DSS) began as a radical movement in opposition to the total management information systems (MIS) orthodoxy of the 1970s. MIS aimed to support all decisions for all managers in an organization while DSS were small-scale systems developed in an evolutionary, exploratory way to support a manager making an important decision. DSS has remained a significant part of managerial and executive work to this day. By 2020, large-scale business intelligence and analytics (BI&A) systems emerged as the major information technology (IT) expenditure in organizations—large-scale decision support had become mainstream. Using the dual process theory of decision cognition from behavioral economics as a theory lens, we analyze decision support history and identify which decisions in organizations can effectively be supported by different decision support approaches. Our analysis is at odds with IT vendors’ and consultants’ marketing narratives. We find that BI&A and data science are mainly appropriate for well-understood operational decisions, while DSS is the only approach that effectively supports strategic decision-making. We suggest that large-scale BI&A and small-scale DSS will continue to coexist into the future; the first controlled by IT departments, the second by business managers and executives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEURO working group on DSS
Subtitle of host publicationa tour of the DSS developments over the last 30 years
EditorsJason Papathanasiou, Pascale Zaraté, Jorge Freire de Sousa
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783030703776
ISBN (Print)9783030703769
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • DSS
  • Business intelligence and analytics
  • Data science
  • History
  • Behavioural economics

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