Many complex and unstructured decisions are hindered by a lack of clear understanding of various underlying assumptions and perspectives involved in the decision process. At present, the traditional decision support systems (DSS) pay little attention to the elicitation of underlying assumptions and perspectives in dealing with complex issues. We argue that the Socratic dialectic inquiry is an effective method for dealing with unstructured problems that are complex and require the involvement of different perspectives in DSS. In this paper, we propose a design for Dialectic Decision Support Systems (DDSS), in which dialectical processes are integrated with traditional DSS in order to provide support for individual decision makers. We then formulate a conceptual model for identifying factors that contribute to the efficacy of DDSS in comparison to traditional DSS. The empirical test of the model supports the superior efficacy of the DDSS and identifies factors that contribute to it. The contributions of this research are in generating support for stimulating critical thinking, dealing with complex decision issues and identifying creative solutions. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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