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Introduction to Trends and Research in the Decision Sciences: Best Papers from the 2014 Annual Conference

Decision science offers powerful insights and techniques that help people make better decisions to improve business and society. Merrill Warkentin introduces this new volume, which brings together the peer-reviewed papers that have been chosen as the "best of the best" by the field's leading organization, the Decision Sciences Institute.
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This first Volume of Research in the Decision Sciences is the first scholarly book sponsored by the Decision Sciences Institute (DSI). It represents a range of leading-edge research projects conducted within the multidisciplinary fields of decision sciences. Decision sciences scholars and practitioners apply a range of rigorous quantitative and behavioral approaches, frameworks, and methodologies to support and solve decision challenges experienced by individuals, organizations, and societies. They draw from functional areas such as information systems, manufacturing/service management, supply chain management, finance, marketing, management, accounting, and decision support, as well as institutional areas such as healthcare, public administration, resource management, and higher education. Decision sciences scholars employ leading rigorous research techniques, including experimental designs, empirical quantitative analysis, optimization, simulation, surveys, and other scientific methods, while also valuing innovative methodological horizons. This volume will provide decision makers with a set of practical and successful approaches to address the decision challenges they face.

The authors of these manuscripts submitted their work to be considered for the Annual Conference, held in Tampa, Florida, during November 2014. The reviewers selected a subset of all the submitted papers to be considered for “Best Paper” awards, and these papers are drawn from that subset. The authors have further refined their work for this annual volume. We encourage the members of DSI to submit their best work to future conferences.

This volume has 25 outstanding papers that apply various rigorous research methods to a range of important decision environments. The first set of papers applies various information systems to the problems of disaster response, football coaching, and customer satisfaction. Dooley, Fan, and Stading have established how emergency services are affected by disaster, and by analyzing data collected before and after major incidents, they have offered improved solutions to enhance preparation. White, James, and Cook have written custom software designed to mine data about tornados, using techniques from neural modeling and detection algorithms to suggest better methods of prediction. Iongamassi, Ramakrishnan, Rahman, and Rose investigate disaster management by leveraging social media as a source of data to link tools to relief phases.

Behara, Huang, and Huang have examined the complex relationships between football coaches by applying social network analysis to identify the role of leadership and “schools” of coaching success. Xu and Li analyze online customer reviews of hotels to determine how customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction varies by demographics and other factors. Arici and Niranjan present an in-depth comparative case study to explore how the maturity of a firm’s customer relationship management (CRM) system affects customer satisfaction. Finally, Li, Yue, and Guo study the optimal design of an online Dutch auction from the auctioneer’s perspective.

In the area of operations management, we have several papers that apply various analytical techniques to the problems of healthcare management and quality assessment. Calderon, James, Cook, and Keeling applied and extended SERVQUAL by applying text mining to the comments left by patients about their physicians. Eason, Lapoint, and Acevedo developed an improved clinician dispatching system so hospitals can increase the timeliness of providing inhaled medications for COPD patients. Behara and Rao developed a neural network–based decision support model to allocate kidneys in complex dual-organ situations. Lawrence, Tworoger, and Ruppel conducted a longitudinal case study in a hospital over 12 years that showed how managers successfully implemented a team strategy that radically altered the organizational culture. Yayla-Kullu, Tansitpong, Gnanlet, McDermott, and Durgee evaluated the role of national culture as a factor affecting the service quality outcomes of individual employee behaviors.

Situational awareness and perceived control in the context of experiencing death is seen as a better predictor of successful coping than training and experience in a study by Dixon, Boland, Perelli, Weeks, and Gaskin. Mehta investigated the role of knowledge heterogeneity and relational capital on knowledge integration in software teams. Padalkar and Gopinath wanted to understand the role of human behaviors in causing project delays, and they applied a game-theoretical framework to show that delay-causing actions can have rational origins. Flynn, Picasso, and Paiva applied a resource-based view to identify the role of resources in supporting achievement of operational performance priorities. Cole, Kazaz, and Webster analyzed and compared policies implemented by manufacturers who phase out a product component, and established guidance for determining the final order quantity to satisfy demand for the component for ongoing warranty obligations. Xiao, Xia, and Zhang examined the distribution channel and service outsourcing decisions for two manufacturers who compete on price and services, and identified the impact of various factors on the channel structure decision. To understand the financial implications on supply chain performance, while considering random production process failures, Hung Li, and Tangpong examined JIT logistics and the defect bullwhip effect. Elahi and Blake considered a supply chain model for outsourcing a commodity product in which a buyer allocates demand.

We also have several operations research and related manuscripts that address interesting problems. Setiono uses a neural network pruning and rule extraction approach to analyze the relevant variables and interactions on a credit scoring dataset, and proposes new terms to simplify the classification rules. West and Dellana seek to optimize airline operational profitability by conducing panel data analysis, and their empirical results offer insights into the impacts of structural design choices and other factors. In another airline decision environment, Kuo and Alkhars evaluated aircraft boarding strategies adopted by major airlines in the United States; they present a way to optimize the grouping of passengers to load an aircraft.

Finally, we have two fine papers that address organizational strategy. Cheng, Xu, and Sheu investigate the relationships among five types of strategic orientation, strategic flexibility, and six dimensions of new service development performance in the business-to-business service context. Miles and Miles present the case for how corporate social responsibility impacts firm productivity by testing their approach on a sample of Fortune 500 firms.

Together, these papers represent outstanding analyses and solutions that are not only interesting, but which offer promise to real-world individuals and organizations who face important decision challenges. We trust you will enjoy reading these papers.

Merrill Warkentin, Volume Editor

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