Research

Research objectives and Framework

The fundamental objective of my research is to contribute to better informed decision-making and thereby to making better decisions, for individuals as well as for organization. This research objective is pursued by three pillars: empirical studies, developing methods, and application

The concept of Value-focused Thinking (Keeney 1992) provides the basis for my research efforts. It features a change in paradigm in mastering decision situations. Most individuals and organisations can be characterized as reactive in their decision making. Decision situations are seen as decision problem, which are to be solved. Often, with little effort, the most obvious alternatives or alternatives proven in similar decision situations are identified. Most of the effort is spent in evaluating these alternatives. In contrast, Keeney suggests to spend more effort in identifying attractive alternatives since only available alternatives can later been chosen as the best. Individuals or organisations should identify their values, i.e. what they care about, and translate their values into objectives. These objectives should be used for identifying systematically more and better alternatives. Instead of solving decision problems, decisions have to be seen as opportunities, which should be proactively developed

  1. Developing and Validating the Multidimensional Proactive Decision-Making Scale
  2. Improving decision making skills of young adults
  3. Developing more and better alternatives (individually as well as in groups)
  4. Developing methods for identifying, structuring and comparing objectives
  5. Combining Value-Focused Thinking and Balanced Scorecard to Improve Decision-Making in Strategic Management
  6. Developing the decision support system “Entscheidungsnavi”
  7. Minimizing the impact of fake news on the real world by debiasing the belief perseverence bias

Selected Research Projects

1. Developing and Validating the Multidimensional Proactive Decision-Making Scale

The crucial research questions are how individuals can be characterized by their proactivity in decision situations, what are the eventual consequences of proactivity in decision situations and how the degree of proactivity affects the satisfactions with ones decisions. The scale on Proactive Decision Making (PDM) that has been theoretically developed from literature and empirically validated in cooperation with Prof. Reinhard Kunz (University of Cologne) allows describing the degree of proactivity of individuals with six dimensions. Two dimensions cover proactive personality traits: “striving for improvement” and “showing initiative”. The four dimensions “systematical identification of objectives”, “systematical identification of information”, “systematical identification of alternatives”, and “using a ‘decision radar” concern proactive cognitive skills and integrate the ideas and concepts of value-focused thinking and decision quality into the PDM-scale

This scale provides the basis for analyzing many research questions. For instance, proactive individuals are significant more satisfied with their decisions and the scale is able to explain up to 50% of the variance of decision satisfaction. In another study, the scale was used a priori and ex post to analyze the impact of an online course on decision making on the participants. In line with hypotheses derived from literature, the degree of the proactive personality traits remain stable while the degree of the proactive cognitive skills improved through the training significantly. Furthermore, we were able to link proactive cognitive skills to life satisfaction. Scholars who teach courses of decision making can use these results to claim relevance and impact of their courses

Siebert, Johannes; Kunz, Reinhard. “Developing and Validating the Multidimensional Proactive Decision-Making Scale”. Special Issue „Behavioral Operations Research“ in European Journal of Operational Research 249(3) 2016, 864-877, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2015.06.066

Siebert, Johannes; Kunz, Reinhard, Rolf, Philipp. “Effects of Proactive Decision Making on Life Satisfaction”, European Journal of Operational Research 280(1) 2020, 1171-1187, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2019.08.011

Siebert, Johannes U.; Kunz, Reinhard, Rolf, Philipp. “Effects of decision training on individuals’ decision-making proactivity”, in press European Journal of Operational Research, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2021.01.010

2. Improving decision making skills of young adults

Die erste Entscheidung viele junge Menschen ist die, „was mache ich nach der Schule?“ Zumeist werden allenfalls unterschiedliche Möglichkeiten vorgestellt. Häufig wählen junge Menschen dann eine von den offensichtlichen oder von anderen Personen vorgeschlagenen Alternativen, ohne sich intensiver damit auseinanderzusetzen, was sie persönlich eigentlich wollen und was ihre Ziele sind. So hört man häufig von Jugendlichen: „Meine Mutter ist Ärztin, also studiere ich Medizin“, oder „Mein Vater ist Unternehmer. Ich studiere BWL“, oder aber auch „Meine Eltern haben nicht studiert. Ich soll auf keinen Fall den gleichen Fehler machen“. Grundsätzlich mögen diese Entscheidungen objektiv gesehen „vernünftig“ erscheinen; im Einzelfall ist es jedoch dringend notwendig, die Interessen, Wünsche und Voraussetzungen jedes/r Einzelnen individuell zu berücksichtigen.

Vor der Wahl des Studienfaches sollte sich jeder die zentrale Frage stellen, ob Ausbildung oder Studium besser zu den Zielen und Wünschen eines jungen Menschen passen. Diese wird heute allerdings häufig komplett außen vorgelassen. In der Folge dessen und aufgrund von schlechten Vorabwägungen bei der Karriereentscheidung brachen im Jahr 2015 28 Prozent aller Bachelorstudierenden ihr Studium ab und 25 Prozent der Ausbildungsverträge wurden vorzeitig gekündigt. Neben ökonomischen Folgen wie etwa erhöhten Ausbildungskosten oder Fachkräftemangel kommt es auch zu teilweise erheblichen individuellen Folgen, da der Abbruch eines Ausbildungswegs oft als schweres Scheitern angesehen wird.

In einem großen Forschungsprojekt in Nordbayern untersuchen wir, wie jungen Menschen am besten in Entscheidungskompetenz trainiert werden können, damit sie gut gerüstet sind, die Entscheidungen, die ihr Leben maßgeblich beeinflussen, besser und proaktiver treffen können. (www.KLUGentscheiden.de)

3. Developing more and better alternatives (individually as well as in groups)

Many individuals and organizations spend most of their effort in evaluating alternatives without ensuring that the best possible alternative are to be chosen from. Therefore, I analyzed how individuals and organizations can systematically create more and better alternatives to improve the outcome of their decision making. The main idea is to use objectives as stimulus in alternatives` creation (Keeney 1992). In cooperation with Ralph Keeney (Duke University, USA), I have carried out a series of five experiments. The participants created alternatives for important decisions they were highly involved with. In summary, these experiments provided comprehensive evidence that using objectives for creating alternatives has a significant positive impact on the number and quality of alternatives created. The results were used to derive a guideline for the creation of alternatives in important decision situations

Siebert, Johannes; Keeney, Ralph L. “Creating More and Better Alternatives for Decisions Using Objectives”. Operations Research, September/October 2015, 63(5), 1144-1158

Siebert, Johannes. “Can Novices Create Alternatives of the Same Quality as Experts?”,  Decision Analysis (INFORMS) 2016, 13(4), 278-291

4. Developing methods for identifying, structuring and comparing objectives

The identification of the objectives of a hostile organization whose decision makers are not interested in cooperation or even contact to them might be dangerous. In such a case the methods to identify objectives in ones` own or cooperative organizations cannot be applied. We developed a method to identify objectives of a hostile organization using expert interviews and published speeches of their leaders. The method can also be applied in more moderate cases and could find widespread application, for example to identify the objectives of a competitor. Furthermore, we developed a method to compare the objectives hierarchies of two or more organizations of one organization over time. The identification of such differences is important if they have a substantial impact. For example, to ensure the protection of the civilian population in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States with regard to attacks by the terrorist group Islamic State it is necessary to identify similarities and differences of the objectives of Al Qaeda and Islamic State. The results can be used to analyze which measures that had been successful and effective against Al Qaeda could be transferred against Islamic State which not. (more details)

Siebert, Johannes; von Winterfeldt, Detlof; John, Richard. “Identifying and Structuring the Objectives of the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) and its Followers.” Decision Analysis (INFORMS), 2016, 13(1), 26-50

Siebert, Johannes U.; von Winterfeldt, Detlof. „Comparative Analysis of Terrorists’ Objectives Hierarchies“, Decision Analysis (INFORMS) June 2020, 17(2), 97-114, https://doi.org/10.1287/deca.2019.0400

Siebert, Johannes U.; Brandenburg, Markus; Siebert, Jana. “Defining and aligning supply chain objectives before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic”, in IEEE Engineering Management Review, 48(4), 72-85, doi: 10.1109/EMR.2020.3032369

5. Combining Value-Focused Thinking and Balanced Scorecard to Improve Decision-Making in Strategic Management

The Balanced Scorecard (Kaplan and Norton 1992) is one of the five management tools used most often and has been implemented by nearly 40 percent of the companies (Rigby and Bilodeau 2013). Yet, there is no theoretically sound approach for developing a balanced scorecard. Value-focused thinking is a decision-making philosophy that fits perfectly to Balanced Scorecard creation. It provides methods and techniques for the identification and structuring of objectives that are suitable to systematically derive a scorecard from a means-ends network. However, such a means-ends network is often too complex for enduring use in strategic management. By adapting the network’s structure to the Balanced Scorecard’s layout, the profound and clear set of derived objectives and their measures provide a reasonable basis for applying methods of multi-criteria decision-making in an organization. In a case study, we develop a media-specific Balanced Scorecard to provide media decision-makers with a model that takes characteristics of media management into account and that helps to manage their company successfully. Using a scientifically sound approach that is based on value-focused thinking (Keeney, 1992), we interview the publisher, the CEO, nine management representatives, and ten key employees of a German medium-sized local newspaper company. Overall, 698 distinct objectives and 1,009 relationships are identified. By concentrating on the most important objectives, we derive a Balanced Scorecard with 33 objectives and 65 relationships, which are organized in seven perspectives. Because of its innovativeness, this project was runner-up in the final of the Practice Awards der Decision Analysis Society (INFORMS)

Siebert, Johannes U.; Kunz, Reinhard „Entwicklung einer Balanced Scorecard mit Value-focused Thinking am Beispiel eines mittelgroßen Medienunternehmens“. Controlling: Zeitschrift für erfolgsorientierte Unternehmenssteuerung, March 2016, 210-215. DOI:  10.15358/0935-0381-2016-3-209

Siebert, Johannes U.; Kunz, Reinhard „Entwicklung einer Balanced Scorecard mit Value-focused Thinking am Beispiel eines mittelgroßen Medienunternehmens“. Controlling: Zeitschrift für erfolgsorientierte Unternehmenssteuerung, March 2016, 210-215. DOI:  10.15358/0935-0381-2016-3-209

Kunz, Reinhard; Siebert, Johannes; Mütterlein. “Combining Value-Focused Thinking and Balanced Scorecard to Improve Decision-Making in Strategic Management”, Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis, September-December, 2016, 225-241 DOI: 10.1002/mcda.1572

Kunz, Reinhard; Siebert, Johannes; Mütterlein, Joschka. „A Media-Specific Balanced Scorecard Based on Value-Focused Thinking“, Journal of Media Business Studies, 13(4), 2016, 257-275. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/16522354.2016.1220114

My objective improving individual and organizational decision making. Therefore, my colleague von Nitzsch (RWTH Aachen) and I are developing a web based decision support system for decisions with multiple objectives (www.entscheidungsnavi.de, more information the project: www.proaktiv-entscheiden.de). The special about the entscheidungsnavi is a sophisticated support which allows decision makers to structure their decision problem appropriately. Furthermore, latest research results on decision making biases and behavior in general are considered to ensure high quality results.

von Nitzsch Rüdiger, Tönsfeuerborn Mendy., Siebert Johannes U. (2020) Decision Skill Training with the Entscheidungsnavi. In: de Almeida A.T., Morais D.C. (eds) Innovation for Systems Information and Decision. INSID 2020. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, vol 405. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64399-7_2

Siebert, Johannes; Rüdiger von Nitzsch. “Das Jobauswahlproblem für Berufseinsteiger: Eine entscheidungstheoretische Anwendung – Teil 1: Problemstrukturierung in Ziele, Alternativen und Unsicherheiten“, Wissenschaftliche Beiträge, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Studium, October 2018

Rüdiger von Nitzsch; Siebert, Johannes. „Das Jobauswahlproblem für Berufseinsteiger: Eine entscheidungstheoretische Anwendung – Teil 2: Ermittlung der besten Alternative mit dem ENTSCHEIDUNGSNAVI“, Wissenschaftliche Beiträge, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Studium, November 2018

Rüdiger von Nitzsch; Siebert, Johannes. „Systematische Entscheidungshilfe durch das ENTSCHEIDUNGSNAVI: Hintergründe und Erläuterungen

7. Minimizing the impact of fake news on the real world by debiasing the belief perseverence bias

Fake news are false news stories packaged and published as if they were genuine with the intention to mislead the reader in order to damage an agency, an entity or a person, or to increase an internet click revenue. During the 2016 US presidential election campaign, fake news became a global phenomenon, in particular due to the growing use of social media as a source for news. The proliferation of fake news online has been of increased concern to the European Parliament since. Yet, no agreement on how to tackle this issue has been reached.

Debiasing refers to attempts to eliminate, or at least reduce, biases. Only a few debiasing methods have been introduced for the belief-perseverance and confirmation biases so far. Although it was suggested already in early publications that effective debiasing methods should include a combination of various debiasing techniques, scholars have rather focused on isolated debiasing techniques. Moreover, the already limited experimental empirical research on debiasing motivational biases has focused primarily on investigating efficacy of single debiasing methods, without comparing efficacy of different debiasing methods and without studying their efficiency. Due to missing experimentally-driven comparisons of debiasing methods within one experiment, there are only limited implications for practical applications in terms of which debiasing method to use in order to achieve the best debiasing effect.

The PerFake project aims to fill in this research gap and contribute to the advancement in the research field by:

  • improving the existing debiasing methods, developing new ones, and combining them;
  • comparing efficacy of various debiasing methods and their combinations; and
  • measuring and comparing efficiency of various debiasing methods and their combinations.

Efficacy and efficiency of the debiasing methods will be tested in two questionnaire-based experiments in order to derive recommendations. For the first experiment, we will use and adapt an experimental setting from the literature in which belief perseverance has already been demonstrated. The experimental setting of the second experiment will then be designed in a way that it is as close as possible to the fake news environment in order to be able to derive conclusions and recommendations that are applicable in practice. (link)

Selected publications

Research-oriented

Siebert, Johannes U.; Kunz, Reinhard, Rolf, Philipp. “Effects of decision training on individuals’ decision-making proactivity”, in press European Journal of Operational Research, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2021.01.010

Siebert, Johannes U.; Brandenburg, Markus; Siebert, Jana. “Defining and aligning supply chain objectives before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic”, in IEEE Engineering Management Review, 48(4), 72-85, doi: 10.1109/EMR.2020.3032369

Siebert, Johannes U.; Kunz, Reinhard, Rolf, Philipp. “Effects of Proactive Decision Making on Life Satisfaction”, European Journal of Operational Research, 280(1) 2020, 1171-1187,  doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2019.08.0111)

Siebert, Johannes U.; von Winterfeldt, Detlof. „Comparative Analysis of Terrorists’ Objectives Hierarchies“, Decision Analysis (INFORMS) June 2020, 17(2), 97-114, https://doi.org/10.1287/deca.2019.0400

Siebert, Johannes U.; Kunz, Reinhard. “Developing and Validating the Multidimensional Proactive Decision-Making Scale”. Special Issue „Behavioral Operations Research“ in European Journal of Operational Research, 249(3) 2016, 864-877.dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2015.06.066

Siebert, Johannes U.; von Winterfeldt, Detlof; John, Richard. “Identifying and Structuring the Objectives of the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) and its Followers.” Decision Analysis (INFORMS), 2016, 13(1), 26-50, dx.doi.org/10.1287/deca.2015.0324

Siebert, Johannes U. “Can Novices Create Alternatives of the Same Quality as Experts?”, Decision Analysis (INFORMS) 2016, 13(4), 278-291, https://doi.org/10.1287/deca.2016.0339

Siebert, Johannes U.; Keeney, Ralph L. “Creating More and Better Alternatives for Decisions Using Objectives”. Operations Research, September/October 2015, 63(5), 1144-1158. dx.doi.org/10.1287/opre.2015.1411

Kunz, Reinhard; Siebert, Johannes U.; Mütterlein. “Combining Value-Focused Thinking and Balanced Scorecard to Improve Decision-Making in Strategic Management”, Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis, September-December, 2016, 225-241DOI: 10.1002/mcda.1572

Kunz, Reinhard; Siebert, Johannes U.; Mütterlein, Joschka. „A Media-Specific Balanced Scorecard Based on Value-Focused Thinking“, Journal of Media Business Studies, 13(4), 2016, 257-275. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/16522354.2016.1220114

Schlüchtermann, Jörg; Siebert, Johannes U. “Industrie 4.0 und Controlling: Erste Konturen zeichnen sich ab“. Schwerpunktheft „Controlling & Industrie 4.0“ der Controlling: Zeitschrift für erfolgsorientierte Unternehmenssteuerung, August/September 2015, 461-465. DOI:  10.15358/0935-0381-2015-8-9-461

Practice-oriented

Siebert, Johannes U.; Keeney, Ralph. „Entscheidungen: Probleme oder Chancen? Wie Sie proaktiv unangenehme Entscheidungssituationen vermeiden können”, Wissenschaftliche Beiträge, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Studium, June 2020, 49 (6), 4-9. doi.org/10.15358/0340-1650-2020-6

Siebert, Johannes U.; Keeney, Ralph. Decisions: Problems or Opportunities? How you can prevent unpleasant decision situations”, Scientific Contributions, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Studium, June 2020, 49(6), 1-6, doi.org/10.15358/0340-1650-2020-6-E4

Siebert, Johannes U.; Rüdiger von Nitzsch. “Das Jobauswahlproblem für Berufseinsteiger: Eine entscheidungstheoretische Anwendung – Teil 1: Problemstrukturierung in Ziele, Alternativen und Unsicherheiten“, DOI: 10.15358/0340-1650-2018-8, Wissenschaftliche Beiträge, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Studium, October 2018

Rüdiger von Nitzsch; Siebert, Johannes U. „Das Jobauswahlproblem für Berufseinsteiger: Eine entscheidungstheoretische Anwendung – Teil 2: Ermittlung der besten Alternative mit dem ENTSCHEIDUNGSNAVI“, DOI: 10.15358/0340-1650-2018-8, Wissenschaftliche Beiträge, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Studium, November 2018

Schlüchtermann, Jörg; Siebert, Johannes U. “Industrie 4.0 und Controlling: Erste Konturen zeichnen sich ab“. Schwerpunktheft „Controlling & Industrie 4.0“ der Controlling: Zeitschrift für erfolgsorientierte Unternehmenssteuerung, August/September 2015, 461-465. DOI:  10.15358/0935-0381-2015-8-9-461