A critical analysis of decision support systems research

  • David Arnott
  • Graham Pervan


This paper critically analyses the nature and state of decision support systems (DSS) research. To provide context for the analysis, a history of DSS is presented which focuses on the evolution of a number of sub-groupings of research and practice: personal DSS, group support systems, negotiation support systems, intelligent DSS, knowledge management-based DSS, executive information systems/business intelligence, and data warehousing. To understand the state of DSS research an empirical investigation of published DSS research is presented. This investigation is based on the detailed analysis of 1,020 DSS articles published in 14 major journals from 1990 to 2003. The analysis found that DSS publication has been falling steadily since its peak in 1994 and the current publication rate is at early 1990s levels. Other findings include that personal DSS and group support systems dominate research activity and data warehousing is the least published type of DSS. The journal DSS is the major publishing outlet; US ‘Other’ journals dominate DSS publishing and there is very low exposure of DSS in European journals. Around two-thirds of DSS research is empirical, a much higher proportion than general IS research. DSS empirical research is overwhelming positivist, and is more dominated by positivism than IS research in general. Design science is a major DSS research category. The decision support focus of the sample shows a well-balanced mix of development, technology, process, and outcome studies. Almost half of DSS papers did not use judgement and decision-making reference research in the design and analysis of their projects and most cited reference works are relatively old. A major omission in DSS scholarship is the poor identification of the clients and users of the various DSS applications that are the focus of investigation.


decision support systems group support systems executive information systems data warehousing business intelligence research 


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© Journal of Information Technology (JIT) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Arnott
    • 1
  • Graham Pervan
    • 2
  1. 1.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Curtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia

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