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Planning and decision making in higher education: Values, judgements and the use of systematic decision aids

Lonsdale, Alan John (1985) Planning and decision making in higher education: Values, judgements and the use of systematic decision aids. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis develops and examines the proposition that decision making and planning may be assisted if the bases underlying the judgements involved in these processes are made explicit. In particular, the effectiveness of systematic decision aids based on social judgement analysis is evaluated, when these are applied in organizational settings. The specific organizational context is higher education; the empirical part of the research consists of two substantial case studies in an Australian college of advanced education.

The thesis links theoretical and empirical studies in two hitherto independent areas: futures research
a) and long-range planning, based on the management sciences, and
b) research into human judgement and decision making, based on the behavioural sciences.

The first half of the thesis examines the assumption that futures research, policy analysis and decision making would be improved if the nature and role of values were better understood. The nature of values and other factors, and their role in influencing the judgements involved in individual and group decision making, is first analysed. The major theoretical propositions are then developed, through an examination of the types of judgements and consideration of conditions affecting their precision and validity. This involves an integration of research in cognitive psychology, futures research and decision making.

Using a combined action research - case study approach, the social judgement analysis procedure was linked to specific group processes and applied to actual organizational decision making. The applications were
a) policy and decisions concerning the promotion of academic staff, and
b) the long range planning of an academic department. The description and evaluation of these applications comprises the second half of the thesis.

There was general support for the basic proposition that decision making is assisted if the bases underlying judgements are made explicit. At the same time, various process and contextual factors influenced the effectiveness and acceptability of the procedures.

These included conditions for individual and interpersonal learning. the separation of types of judgements, group leadership and interaction processes, and organisational politics. Finally, the research demonstrated resistance by decision makers to the use of systematic procedures, and the reasons for this are examined.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): McGaw, Barry and Dufty, Norman
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