iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Usefulness and perceived usefulness of Decision Support Systems (DSSs) in participatory forest planning: the final users’ point of view

Fabio Pastorella (1), José G Borges (2), Isabella De Meo (3)   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 3, Pages 422-429 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1356-008
Published: Jan 02, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles

In recent decades, the focus of forestry Decision Support Systems (DSSs) has expanded to consider the social dimension of forestry and to support participatory decision-making. A large number of models and tools have become available to solve forest management planning problems. The Usefulness of a DSS depends on the range of tools that it incorporates, and many researches have been developed to evaluate DSSs using Usefulness as parameter. The assessment of Usefulness concerns the effectiveness of a DSS. Furthermore, most assessments take into account the degree of Perceived Usefulness, which is considered an indicator of the impact a system has on job performance. The present study focuses on the analysis of final users’ point of view on the Usefulness and Perceived Usefulness of DSSs in participatory forest planning. The research investigates how forest users’ characteristics and context influence their views on the potentialities of DSSs to enhance both the various phases of the participatory planning process (Usefulness) and job performance (Perceived Usefulness). The study is based on quantitative data collected through two questionnaires e-mailed to a sample of 150 DSSs end users. The questionnaires focused on Usefulness and on Perceived Usefulness topics, respectively. Results indicate that special attention must be given to motivating respondents with a clear explanation of the survey objectives when e-mailing questionnaires. Moreover, results show that, in general, respondents consider DSSs useful at each step of the participatory process, despite differences emerge among steps. The research also shows that respondents’ Perceived Usefulness of DSSs was higher before actually engaging with DSSs. Furthermore, the results highlight differences in Perceived Usefulness to improve job performance, suggesting that the use of DSSs may actually improve job performance more than expected. Specifically, results indicate that improving the technical descriptions of methodologies incorporated in a DSS may contribute to increasing the Perceived Usefulness. The information provided within this research contributes to the advancement of knowledge regarding the Usefulness of DSSs as perceived by forest stakeholders, which in turn supports the improvement of DSS architectures and the development of participatory processes in forest management planning.


Forest Management, Decision Support Systems, Participatory Planning, Usefulness, Perceived Usefulness

Authors’ address

Fabio Pastorella
Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria, Forest Monitoring and Planning Research Unit (CRA-MPF), p.zza Nicolini 6, I-38123 Villazzano di Trento (Italy)
José G Borges
Forest Research Centre, School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, Apada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisboa (Portugal)
Isabella De Meo
Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria, Agrobiology and Pedology Research Center, p.zza M. D’Azeglio 30, I-50121 Firenze (Italy)

Corresponding author

Isabella De Meo


Pastorella F, Borges JG, De Meo I (2016). Usefulness and perceived usefulness of Decision Support Systems (DSSs) in participatory forest planning: the final users’ point of view. iForest 9: 422-429. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1356-008

Academic Editor

Luca Salvati

Paper history

Received: May 20, 2014
Accepted: Aug 20, 2015

First online: Jan 02, 2016
Publication Date: Jun 01, 2016
Publication Time: 4.50 months

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