Modeling and Simulation of Cultural Differences in Human Decision-Making

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Department of Defense
Award Year:
Phase I
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Small Business Information
6310 Greenwich Dr #200, San Diego, CA, 92122
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Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
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Principal Investigator
 Holly Handley
 Senior Scientist
 (858) 535-1661
Business Contact
 James Callan
Title: President
Phone: (858) 535-1661
Research Institution
While much research has been completed on the different elements of human decision-making, Pacific Science and Engineering is in the unique position to develop a model that incorporates variables from three components: culture, organization, and individualcognitive processes. The model will create a decision space where the three components interact. The decision space will include the decision process, with its required nodes and decision-maker roles. Each decision node will be populated with adecision-maker filling a particular role. Each decision maker will have decision heuristics and information processing patterns, based on prior experience and training. Cultural background, organizational culture, and external stresses and time pressureswill be combined in the decision space to influence performance outcomes. Thus, the model will represent the interaction of variables from the three component models and will allow their effects to be anticipated. The Phase I technical objective is todevelop a model that will identify how variables from the background culture, organizational process, and individual experience component models impact the decision-making process. This will allow the evaluation of alternative task assignments andoperating conditions in order to reach the most effective blend. Ultimately, this model will allow military planners to forecast decisions and task outcomes of multi-national coalitions. The output of this research is a system that can be used to evaluatethe performance of a decision-maker or a decision process under multiple cultural, organizational, and personal biases. Such a system has significant potential commercial value in both the DoD and private sector. In the DoD, for example, standardorganizational structures exist for coalition operations, both for U.S.-led operations and for partner-led operations. During the planning cycle for the coalition, a structure is adopted and the different coalition partner decision-makers are fit into thatstructure. This system would allow an evaluation of the coalition partner decision-makers during the planning cycle and allow modification to an existing structure or to design a new structure that maximized the decision process outcomes, based on thecultural and individual biases of the coalition partners. The simulations can be used iteratively until the desired combination of decision structure and decision process is achieved. A precursor tool, developed by PSE under the DSSCO program, is alreadyin regular use at PACOM and has received enthusiastic support from an influential multinational coalition working group (MPAT). Thus, an existing military ?customer base? already exists for this model.In the private sector, multinational organizations have long struggled with the ability to understand the decision-making styles of various national employees. Indeed, Hofstede?s original study was conducted by IBM to understand why motivators for theirU.S. employees did not seem to work overseas. This system could be used by international organizations to mitigate the factors that cause problems between multi-national decision-makers. For example, if a multi-national manager wanted to proactively lessendeleterious effects on a decision process of a specific decision-maker who is prone to hyper-vigilance, the system would evaluate how to provide information to that decision-maker so that hyper-vigilance is avoided or its effect on the overall decisionprocesses minimized.Even within a national organization, certain decision-makers may be identified as deadlocks in a decision or negotiation process. The system could be used, for example, to accelerate the process by providing feedback in order to reduce uncertaintyassociated with expected outcomes, reducing the number of options considered provided the options are similar to prior successful choices, and by providing options that are consistent with known expectations.In summary, this system, which provides general models of decision-making structures and processes, can help both national and international teams whether military, government, business, or even research, work together better. The commercializationstrategy for this model is flexible due to the system architecture proposed by PSE. The knowledge bases and model could be fully incorporated into a large-scale system, such as GCCS-M or GENOA. It could also easily be distributed as a stand-alonesoftware product, as PSE has been doing with its DSSCO tool. The most promising commercialization strategy for this system, however, appears to be via a web-based application. Users could purchase a subscription to access the system, which PSE couldcontinue to update, maintain, and expand.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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