Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The general purpose of this thesis research was to assess the impact of probabilistic data on decision behaviour. The vehicle used to examine the impact of probabilistic data on decision behavior was the operating budget, undertaken both probabilistically and deterministically in an experimental business gaming environment.;Despite the uncertainties that are inherent in the planning and estimates that lead to the development of an operating budget, the typical operating budget provides only deterministic data to the decision-makers that act upon the budget. This practice has conveyed to users of the operating budget the impression of perfect certainty in the plans and estimates that comprise the budget. As a result, the decision-makers may not consider decision alternatives thoroughly nor take into account the possible inaccuracy of the budget data. To prevent such errors, it has been suggested that the operating budget should explicitly incorporate uncertainty via the inclusion of probability distributions. The inclusion of these probability distributions in the operating budget raises several questions: Will the decision processes change, will the decisions change, will the decisions be improved (if changed), and will the performance in the decision task be improved? The purpose of this thesis research was to gather empirical data to answer these questions in order to assess the impact of probabilistic data on decision behavior.;An experimental business game was designed to examine the four decision behavior aspects previously posed as questions. Twenty-five MBA students (all of whom were full-time white collar employees) and 145 undergraduate accounting majors participated in the experimental game over a six-week time period representing six decision periods. The participants were randomly assigned to experimental groups receiving probabilistic data and control groups receiving deterministic data. Operational definitions were constructed for the four decision aspects; whereupon, they were statistically examined vis-a-vis the experimental and control groups.;The empirical results tended to support the general conclusion that the use of probabilistic data lead to changes in the subjects' decision processes and decisions, and improved their decisions and performance, in the experimental game. Specific recommendations are made for future research and experimentation; however, the preliminary empirical evidence of the study was not deemed adequate to support specific policy recommendations.



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