Date of Award

Spring 1995

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management

Committee Director

Frederick Steier

Committee Member

Samuel F. Coppage

Committee Member

Barry Clemson

Committee Member

Billie Reed


This study addresses the impact of Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS) on expert system development by multiple Domain Experts. Current approaches to building expert systems rely heavily on knowledge acquisition and prototyping by a Knowledge Engineer working directly with the Domain Expert. Although the complexity of knowledge domains and new organizational approaches demand the involvement of multiple experts, standard procedures limit the ability of the Knowledge Engineer to work with more than one expert at a time.

Group Decision Support Systems offer a networked computerized environment for group work activities, in which multiple experts may express their ideas concurrently and anonymously through the electronic channel. GDSS systems have been widely used in other applications to support idea generation, conflict management, and the organizing, prioritizing, and synthesizing of ideas. The effects of many group process and technical factors on GDSS have been widely studied and documented.

A review of the literature on expert systems, GDSS, and GDSS in relation to expert systems was conducted. Knowledge gained from this review was applied in the construction of an exploratory research model intended to provide the necessary breadth to identify factors worthy of future, more statistically-based, investigation. Domain Experts represented by college students were charged with developing and prioritizing ideas for creating a pre-prototypical expert system. The treatment group worked in a GDSS environment with a facilitator; a control group worked with a facilitator but without the assistance of GDSS. Each group then exchanged facilitators and technology to address another real-life problem. Additional groups worked with GDSS over time, addressing both problems. Data were gathered, analyzed and discussed relating to group efficiency factors, group process factors, attitudinal factors, and product quality factors. Independent Knowledge Engineers and Domain Experts evaluated the validity and verifiability of the group products. Analysis focused on the effect of GDSS in facilitating the acquisition and structuring of ideas for expert systems by multiple Domain Experts.