, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 511-533

Accessibility of Computer-based Simulation Models in Inherently Conflict-Laden Negotiations

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Abstract

The use of computer-based simulation models has a long history in areas such as environmental planning and policy-making, and particularly in water management. Policy making in these areas is often characterized by inherent conflict among diverse stakeholders with divergent interests. Although simulation models have been shown to be helpful for such problems, they are typically under the control of a technical analyst or governmental agency and are not available to negotiators in real time. Recent trends in computer technology and user expectations raise the possibility of real-time, user-controlled models for supporting negotiation. But is such accessibility likely to be helpful? This study used a "compressed" longitudinal experiment to investigate the impacts of different scenarios of accessibility of computer-based simulation models. The task was based on a real-life problem in Colorado River water management. Results revealed no significant differences among conditions for either solution quality or satisfaction. These results suggest that the common notion of "more is better" may be inappropriate, and resources for improving computer support of negotiation might best be focused elsewhere.