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Simone Gressel

School of Management
Massey Business School


Thesis Title
Management Decision Making in the Age of Big Data - An Exploration of the Roles of Analytics and Human Judgment

Research Description
My research addresses the central question of how managers are affected by data and analytics in their decision making. Especially in recent years, the topics of big data, advanced analytics, Internet of Things etc. gained a lot of traction and wide-spread interest in academic but also practitioner literature. Often considered as a trend or buzzword, big data is not always well understood, seen as something that every organization needs, and as something every manager should rely on when making decisions. However, a lack of understanding of the data or over-reliance can lead to bad decisions, as the example of the financial crisis shows. In my research, I am taking an in-depth look at management decision making by using qualitative case studies and critical incidents to carefully examine managers' decision making processes. This reveals interesting insights as to which factors affect the decision making process positively or negatively when relying to some extent on data; different roles of data and human judgement are explored. Furthermore, different types of managers are identified according to their decision making style, which can assist organizations in understanding their workforce better. Lastly, organizational prerequisites are identified that enable a supportive decision making environment for managers.

Research Importance
Organizations are often overwhelmed by an inaccurate depiction of the ubiquity of big data use, which leads to uninformed and rushed decisions to employ big data technologies. This thesis aims at providing a more realistic overview of how big data is currently used and how it can assist with decision-making.

Research Benefit
Organizations forming a big data strategy will benefit from this study; as well as managers using or planning to use (big) data and analytics in their decision making. Researchers might be inspired to extend the qualitative research approach of this study.

Personal Description
I am a German PhD candidate with a Master's degree in Information Management from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Work experience in Online Marketing quickly led to a deeper interest in the power of data and also in the use and acceptance of information systems. This ultimately resulted in the choice for my thesis topic. Personal interest in traveling and curiosity brought me to New Zealand, and Massey University offered fantastic supervision and great support from the beginning. After completion of my thesis I'd like to support organizations with their data initiatives and promote prudent use of data and analytics.

Professor David Pauleen
Dr Nazim Taskin


Gressel, S. (2015). Exploring the Effects of Big Data on Managerial Decision Making. Paper presented at ANZAM 2016: Queenstown, New Zealand.

Intezari, A., Gressel, S. (2017).Information and Reformation in KM Systems: Big Data and Strategic Decision-making. Journal of Knowledge Management.

Bradbury, T., Gressel, S., Forsyth, D. (accepted). Intuition and Elite Athlete Selection Decision-Making: Perspectives from National Sport Coaches. New Zealand Journal of Human Resources Management

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