Title: Problem solving representations in systems development

Authors: Khairul Azman Aziz

Addresses: School of Accounting, Faculty of Economics and Management, National University of Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, Malaysia

Abstract: The contemporary trend of utilising rapid and agile methodologies in systems development indicates the importance of the iterative refinement of the representation of user problems, which usually begins with an inadequate representation of the actual problems. Although the iterative element is a well-acknowledged process among practitioners, it has yet to be incorporated in general theories of problem solving. This study performs a qualitative analysis on the development tasks of 11 respondents utilising the cognitive fit theory (CFT) as a lens to uncover the iterative nature of systems development as a problem solving task. The present study suggests the explicit inclusion of iterative elements into the CFT by modifying the theory. The study finds that while problem representations do inform the formation of mental representation and affect problem solving performance through a typical input-process-output flow, iterative processes also occur when mental representation affects problem representations. Additionally, the findings of the present study also establish three further branch-out models, based upon the modified CFT, to cater for specific circumstances: the cognitive fit model with learning; the cognitive fit model for recurring tasks; and the cognitive fit model for decision making triggered tasks.

Keywords: problem representation; mental representation; problem solving; iterative refinement; systems development; cognitive fit; qualitative method; learning; recurring tasks; decision making; triggered tasks.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBIS.2014.059249

International Journal of Business Information Systems, 2014 Vol.15 No.2, pp.123 - 144

Published online: 07 Jun 2014 *

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