Subjective understanding in strategic decision making. An information systems perspective

Surya B. Yadav, Deepak Khazanchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Decision makers and people in general, are constantly involved with understanding, formulating, and solving problems. Many of the problems faced by decision makers fall into the ill-structured/ill-defined category - as a contrasted with well-structured/well-defined problems. This is especially true of problems faced by strategic decision makers. These problems routinely challenge the cognitive capacities of managers. Managers meet these challenges with limited information-processing capabilities. Decision makers perform various activities that help them understand ill-structured problems. These activities to a large extent are "cognitive" in nature. It is argued that IS support provided to managers "through" their "cognitive orientations" might facilitate understanding of ill-structured problems. A new concept called the called the "cognitive lens" is used to describe these cognitive orientations from an IS perspective. In conjunction with this notion, a classification of IS support in terms of a continuum of inquiry modes is proposed. These inquiry modes - introspective, dialectic, and eclectic inquiry - operate on cognitive lenses stored and maintained in a "cognitive lens support system." The system architecture and the functional support required to facilitate the different inquiry modes are also described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-71
Number of pages17
JournalDecision Support Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1992


  • Cognitive lens
  • Cognitive lens support system
  • Cognitive model
  • Ill-structured problem
  • Inquiry mode
  • Problem understanding
  • Strategic planning process
  • Understanding-activities


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