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As shown in Figure 1, an inter-organizational DSS has evolved from two predecessors, organizational DSS and global DSS. As we progress to IODSSs, the focuses, tools, and functional capabilities have been shifted, added, and strengthened, while the core concepts of DSSs suggested by many (Dennis, George, Jessup, Nunamaker, & Vogel, 1988; DeSanctis & Gallupe, 1987; Jessup & Valacich, 1993; Keen & Scott Morton, 1978) have remained unchanged.
Research on computer-based information systems to support group activities was conducted under the titles of group decision support systems (GDSSs) (DeSanctis & Gallupe, 1985), computer-supported cooperative work (Greif, 1988), group support systems (Jessup & Valacich, 1993), electronic meeting systems (Dennis et al., 1988), and collaboration support systems. GDSSs have focused on decision making/problem solving, while computer-supported cooperative works are driven more by the communication needs of a group. There seems to be a consensus that GSS is a broad umbrella term referring to the collection of computer-assisted technologies used to aid group efforts directed at identifying and addressing problems, opportunities, and issues (Jessup & Valacich, 1993).
Since the first notable concept of organizational DSSs appeared in the late 1980s (Lee, McCosh, & Migliarese, 1988), the topic of organizational DSSs has been continuously researched. Readers are referred to George (1991–1992) for a comprehensive review of organizational DSS (ODSS) literature up to 1990. Based on the review, George synthesized the different ODSS concepts and presented three common features (p. 114):
The focus of an ODSS is an organizational task, activity, or decision that affects several organizational units or corporate issues.
An ODSS cuts across organizational functions or hierarchical layers.
An ODSS almost necessarily involves computer-based technologies and may also involve communication technologies.
An organizational DSS is defined as a DSS that is used by individuals or groups at several workstations in more than one organizational unit which makes varied (interrelated but autonomous) decisions using a common set of tools (Carter, Murray, Walker, & Walker, 1992). According to the same source, an important goal of organizational DSSs is to provide “the glue that holds a large organization together and keeps its part marching to the beat of the same drummer toward common goals.”
Key components of ODSS technologies include (1) communication technologies; (2) coordination technologies for coordinating resources, facilities, and projects; (3) filtering technologies for filtering and summarizing information using intelligent agents; (4) decision-making technologies such as GSSs; and (5) monitoring technologies such as executive information systems/executive support systems (George, Nunamaker, & Valacich, 1992). The organizational DSS is often built on intranet technology (Ba, Lang, & Whinston, 1997).
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