n South African Computer Journal - Exploring procedural decision support systems for wicked problem resolution - SAICSIT 2016 special section

Volume 29 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1015-7999
  • E-ISSN: 2313-7835



Wicked problems are hyper-complex problems that are not solvable via traditional methods. Some common examples of these include issues such as poverty, climate change, business strategy, and general policy development, which all have high stakes and no straightforward solution. The ambiguity of these problems can be particularly frustrating for the individuals and organizations that encounter them, as the very essence of these problems is elastic and unstable. Additionally, attempts to tame wicked problems tend to be irrevocable — for better or for worse — as the problem itself shifts in unpredictable ways in response. Decision support systems (DSSs) have long been considered a panacea for a number of highly complex problems in light of their potential to store, retrieve, and manipulate information to aid decision making. However, classical DSSs, being originally intended for semi-structured types of problems, are rendered practically impotent in the presence of wicked problems and their associated complexities. Thus, this article investigates the possibility of DSSs that rely on procedural rationality as an alternative strategy for resolving wicked problems. An empirical literature review is utilized to build and present an integrated, descriptive model for the design, development, and use of such DSSs for resolving wicked problems.

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