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Introduction to Common Disciplines That Separate Us: Local Contexts in Global Networks

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Gyula Vastag introduces a collection of selected papers that offers readers an opportunity to learn about the insights and burning issues of decision making from scholars representing about a dozen countries, and a wide range of disciplines and scientific paradigms, in this excerpt from Research in the Decision Sciences for Global Business: Best Papers from the 2013 Annual Conference.
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Paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw’s often repeated wisdom about context making a difference (“England and America are two countries, separated by the same language”) in its theme, the 4th Annual Conference of the European Decision Sciences Institute (EDSI) aimed to highlight the importance of local contexts in a globally connected, and as such, more and more standardized, world. Despite global trends, we view our professional worlds differently: We prefer different journals for publishing papers on the very same topics; we follow different value systems in judging quality; we join professional organizations of different local flavors. One of the goals of the conference was to show how global trends get embedded in local contexts and how the interactions between global and local forces take place. Decision Sciences Institute (of which EDSI is a regional chapter) is embracing the duality of living in globally determined local contexts in its mission: We are a globally integrated professional association with an inclusive and cross-disciplinary philosophy.

This collection of selected papers offers readers an opportunity to learn about the insights and burning issues of decision making from scholars representing about a dozen countries, and a wide range of disciplines and scientific paradigms. EDSI 2013, where the papers of this volume were presented, provided an extraordinary occasion for leading and budding scholars alike to meet and discuss new directions and trends in an inspiring environment of more than one millennium of history and culture, counting from the year 1000 when St. Stephen, the first King of Hungary, was crowned.

The selected papers of this book are grouped into six parts that, to some extent, reflect the Tracks of the conference: “Plenary Papers,” “Innovation and Competitiveness,” “Public Sector Decisions,” “Healthcare Decisions,” “Decision Analytics,” and “Researching and Practicing the Science of Supply Chains.”

The “Plenary Papers” part presents relevant issues of decision making from four very different paradigms reflecting the backgrounds of their distinguished authors: law as it pertains to good governance and good public administration, law in the context of public sector decisions related to higher education, physics through which advantages of hierarchical organizations could be represented and measured, and operations management for discussing the trade-offs of distributed product development. The last two papers are also perfect illustrations for coming up and testing more universal and generalizable messages from local contexts and information sources (like pigeon flocks or product development projects of a firm).

Papers in the “Innovation and Competitiveness” part discuss the role of R&D in international competitiveness and issues related to the use of the Innovation Union Scoreboard. “Public Sector Decisions” features papers on military decisions, ICT, a public higher education institution, and the service triad of providing visa services in a foreign country. The focus of the papers in the “Healthcare Decisions” section is on efficiency of multicultural teams, shared decision making, and the relationship between process quality and patient safety. Decision analytics and supply chain management have been among the fastest-growing areas of decision making; the papers presented in these parts of the book offer a good overview of current research interests in these areas.

The greatest contribution of this collection of papers, in my view, is the variety of approaches and topics presented. With my tongue firmly in cheek, I would even say that these papers may be interpreted as contextual customizations of globally standardized products where, depending on the author’s world, either the same well-known methodology is used in a new setting/environment or a new methodology was developed for the same well-known problem. As an illustration, the papers that got “Best Paper” awards at EDSI 2013 also show this variety:

  • “Assessing the Role of R&D in International Competitiveness” by Ádám Török
  • “Process Quality and Patient Safety Outcomes in Hospitals” by Kathleen L. McFadden, Gregory N. Stock, and Charles R. Gowen III
  • “Detecting Community Structures Based on Neighborhood Relations” by Ágnes VathyFogarassy, Csaba Pigler, Dániel Leitold, and Zoltán Süle
  • “Information Processing in Emerging Markets: Industry Intelligence Activities in China” by Christian P. J.-W. Kuklinski, Roger Moser, and Thomas E. Callarman
  • “ICT-Based Value Creation in Business and Public Administration: Review and Research Propositions” by András Nemeslaki
  • “Supply Chain Integration and Performance” by Sukran N. Atadeniz and Yavuz Acar
  • “Combined Sourcing and Inventory Management Using Capacity Reservation and Spot Market” by Rainer Kleber, Karls Inderfurth, and Peter Kelle

I hope that you as a reader will benefit from this variety, and, perhaps, you can even get new ideas and inspirations from this book for taking up new research projects.

Acknowledgments

In 2015, the author was supported in the framework of TÁMOP 4.2.4. A/2-11-1-2012-0001 National Excellence Program by the European Union and the State of Hungary, cofinanced by the European Social Fund.

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