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Narrative and Big Data

Professor Robert Johnston challenges ideas surrounding 'big data' and human-centred decision making

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May 21, 2014
from 01:00 PM to 02:00 PM


Room Q233, Lochlann Quinn Building, UCD Belfield Campus

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Naturalistic Decision Making as a Challenge to Business Analytics

In the popular as well as academic discourses, management Decision Making is viewed as a key area that Business Analytics and Big Data can support and improve. Managers are frequently portrayed as relying inappropriately on ‘intuition’, which is risky, suboptimal, and lacking objectivity. I will take a fresh look at this issue by contrasting the Normative Decision Making paradigm (what decision makers should do) with the Naturalistic Decision Making paradigm (what human experts actually do). By and large, the BA discourse focuses on the normative paradigm, despite much recent empirical and theoretical research that shows that it has little connection to what real practitioners do. I will then ask the questions: What beliefs have led BA pundits to focus on the ideal rather than the actual? What assumptions about organizational reality inform these beliefs? Can these beliefs be challenged? And if so, how would it change conceptions of the role of data in support of human-centred decision making?

This is part of work with Peter Seddon and Graeme Shanks at the University of Melbourne supported by an ARC discovery grant.

Robert Johnston is Professor of Business Information Systems at the University of Sydney and Professor Emeritus at UCD. His main research areas are IT-enabled organizational innovation, supply chain and operations management, inter-organisational information systems and theoretical foundations of IS. He has over 140 refereed publications, many in leading international journals, including Information Systems Research, Management Science, European Journal of Information Systems, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Communications of the ACM, Journal of the Operational Research Society, OMEGA, International Journal of Production Economics, and Supply Chain Management. Before becoming an academic he spent 13 years as an IT practitioner.