Date of Award

Spring 4-24-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Doctorate in Business (EDB)



First Advisor

Mark Keil

Second Advisor

Peter Zhang

Third Advisor

Yusen Xia


Intelligent decision systems have the potential to support and greatly amplify human decision-making across a number of industries and domains. However, despite the rapid improvement in the underlying capabilities of these “intelligent” systems, increasing their acceptance as decision aids in industry has remained a formidable challenge. If intelligent systems are to be successful, and their full impact on decision-making performance realized, a greater understanding of the factors that influence recommendation acceptance from intelligent machines is needed.

Through an empirical experiment in the financial services industry, this study investigated the effects of perceived behavioral similarity (similarity state) on the dependent variables of recommendation acceptance, decision performance and decision efficiency under varying conditions of uncertainty (volatility state). It is hypothesized in this study that behavioral similarity as a design element will positively influence the acceptance rate of machine recommendations by human users. The level of uncertainty in the decision context is expected to moderate this relationship. In addition, an increase in recommendation acceptance should positively influence both decision performance and decision efficiency.

The quantitative exploration of behavioral similarity as a design element revealed a number of key findings. Most importantly, behavioral similarity was found to positively influence the acceptance rate of machine recommendations. However, uncertainty did not moderate the level of recommendation acceptance as expected. The experiment also revealed that behavioral similarity positively influenced decision performance during periods of elevated uncertainty. This relationship was moderated based on the level of uncertainty in the decision context. The investigation of decision efficiency also revealed a statistically significant result. However, the results for decision efficiency were in the opposite direction of the hypothesized relationship. Interestingly, decisions made with the behaviorally similar decision aid were less efficient, based on length of time to make a decision, compared to decisions made with the low-similarity decision aid. The results of decision efficiency were stable across both levels of uncertainty in the decision context.