Group Decision and Negotiation
New technologies present both opportunities and challenges; Eva Gerstmeier (this volume) notes that Internet provides market participants with a plethora of pricing mechanisms, including English auctions, name-your-own-price-mechanisms, and negotiations. There have been numerous studies about online auctions, negotiations, and group decision making, undertaken by researchers in behavioral economics, computer science, and management information systems; Gerstmeier's study is an example of
... utions to group decision and negotiation research and practice. Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) provide a platform for novel mechanisms for exchanging goods and services as well as information and ideas. The latter requires cooperation which, in a distributed and technology laden environment, may be very difficult and frustrating. Gwendolyn Kolfschoten, Jur Kosterbok and Alain Hoekstra (this volume) continue research initiated by Robert Briggs and de Vreede (2009) on collaboration engineering, which is based on the design and implementation of ThinkLets-a combination of a tool (a concrete configuration hardware and software technologies used to create a pattern of thinking) and a script (a set of events and instructions which people follow to create a pattern of thinking). While our personal and professional lives are affected by technological innovations, it would be an error to claim that technology replaced content-rich interactions among people, including conflict management. Models and methods of group decision and negotiation remain relevant and useful to the study of social processes. We should not forget, however, that models and methods are derived from axioms and paradigms; basing someone's reasoning on a wrong or irrelevant axiomatic system may produce a spectacular error. No one can show it better than Hervé Raynaud; he does it in the article which opens this volume, Can Chat Group Therapy Suggest a Paradigm for Axiomatized Collective Decision Process. 123 564 J. Clímaco et al. Hervé Raynaud, through his unique mix of humor and deep observations of human nature, discusses the axioms underlying choice, in particular multi-person and multicriteria choice. In three interconnected parts he reiterates the paradoxes and impossibilities which Kenneth J. Arrow, Gert Köhler and he himself identified and tried to resolve (Arrow and Raynaud 1986). Raynaud stresses that the logical structures of multi-criteria decision making and the emotional situations of the decision makers may be interconnected and that these connections need to be recognized and included in the construction of models. Failing to recognize them may produce unexpected and very negative results, which he illustrates with an example of a dramatic failure of sound therapeutic techniques which were employed without consideration of the patients' needs. Alessandro Luè and Alberto Colorni discuss the use of a system of methods to conduct a comprehensive environmental impact assessment. The study entitled Conflict analysis for environmental impact assessment: A case study of a transportation system in a tourist area, introduces two approaches to group decision making. The first approach requires that a group jointly engages in every step of the decision process. The second approach allows group members to engage in problem solving individually; only after everyone has solved the problem all group members seek consensus. The authors chose the second process and embed it in it a multi-attribute value model. There are seven types of stakeholders who are engaged in the process. In order to bring the process to a conclusion Luè and Colorni follow the advice of Keeney and Raiffa (1976) and propose a supra decision-maker who is responsible for assigning power indices to individual stakeholders and for the sensitivity analysis. One of the achievements of ICT is the ability of millions of people to communicate and access information rich resources. This opportunity led to the revival of interest in participatory democracy. Alfonso Mateos, Antonio Jiménez and Sixto Ríos-Insua are among the researchers who have been working in the development of models and tools that would allow citizens to actively participate in public decision-making. Their paper A group decision-making methodology with incomplete individual beliefs applied to edemocracy proposes a four-phase approach to solve a multi-attribute discrete problem with a large number of decision-makers. The core of their method is the specification of individual preferences, elicitation of weights, application of the Dempster-Shafer theory of evidence for attribute aggregation, computation of the expected utility for all alternatives, and finally, ranking of the alternatives. While the method is complex as it requires solving simultaneous equations and optimization problems, the authors show that its use is fairly simple and does not require specialized knowledge. In negotiations and, to a lesser degree group decision making, we assume the existence of conflict. Conflict may be apparent or real and the participants in both processes are expected to compromise and make concessions.