Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Systems Modeling and Analysis

First Advisor

Jason R. W. Merrick

Second Advisor

Casey Lichentdahl

Third Advisor

Lance Saunders

Fourth Advisor

Paul Brooks

Fifth Advisor

David Edwards


The present work explores improvements in group decision-making. It begins with a practical example using state-of-the-art techniques for a complex, high-risk decision. We show how these techniques can reveal a better alternative. Although we created an improved decision process, decision-makers were apt to protect their own organizations instead of the project. This tendency was reduced over the course of the decision-making process but inspired the first conceptual component of this work.

The first concept describes the “Cost of Conflict” that can arise in a group decision, using game theory to represent the non-cooperative approach and comparing the outcome to the cooperative approach. We demonstrate that it is possible for the group to settle on a non-Paretto Nash equilibrium. The sensitivity of the decision-maker weights is revealed which led to the second conceptual portion of this work.

The second concept applies social network theory to study the influence between decision-makers in a group decision. By examining the number and strength of connections between decision-makers, we build from intrinsically derived weights to extrinsically derived weights by adding the network influences from other decision-makers. The two conceptual approaches provide a descriptive view of non-cooperative decisions where decision-makers still influence each other. These concepts suggest a prescriptive approach to achieving a higher group utility.


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