Date of Award

Fall 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering


Engineering Management

Committee Director

Andres Sousa-Poza

Committee Member

Ariel Pinto

Committee Member

Rafael Landaeta

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.E555 S23 2006


Decision making occurs when one must choose among alternatives. However, in uncertain environments where problems are complex and decision makers lack complete knowledge of the situation as well as decision alternatives, it's not possible for them to select an optimal decision outcome by 'Traditional Decision Approaches'. At present Reverse Decision Making is the central, although new and unproved, approach of Old Dominion University's Engineering Management and Systems Engineering research on decision making process for uncertain and complex situations. Even though research in decision making spans over one hundred years, there are still important problems which remain to be addressed.

There is still no universally accepted explanation on how people make decisions in uncertain environments in practice. Secondly, no sound method exists to find the exact process of decision making under uncertainty that illustrates how people perceive outcomes and take action to attain those outcomes in complex situations. This research proposes an approach called Reverse Decision Making (RDM). RDM proposes that in dynamic and consistently changing complex situations (1) initial decisions based on desired outcomes and their perceived feasibility and (2) that the sequence of actions taken to attain the desired outcome is continuously altered based on the decision makers confidence level of attaining the outcome at a given point in time where this perceived feasibility or confidence is influenced by either positive or negative input from the environment and the ability to take action to mitigate these influences. In this model it is postulated that when confidence drops below an acceptable threshold or the desire to attain an outcome dissipates, the decision makers shift to a new decision alternative.

An experimental study is conducted to validate components of the RDM model. The results are analyzed showing how decision makers under uncertain situations perceive outcomes and how the sequence of events affects their confidence level and decision path towards their desired goal. The results suggest that decision making in uncertain conditions can be explained by the RDM construct.


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