Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Department of Management

Major Professor

Dirk Libaers, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Tim Novak, D.B.A.

Committee Member

Andy Artis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott Hope, D.B.A.

Committee Member

Grandon Gill, D.B.A.


Analytics, Small Business Underperformance, Small Business Development, Data-Based Decision Making


In small businesses, underperformance and lack of growth can be the results of poor decision-making based on gut-feel rather than data or evidence. The result is often ad-hoc business processes that do not evolve into efficient organizational routines. Evidence (data)- based decision making (EDM) has proved effective for large firms. This study tests the use of EDM in small businesses by applying an organizational mapping tool called the Dorsey Multi- Function Process Map™ (DMPM), a descriptive visual analytic, as a way to help small businesses transition from gut-feel to data-based decisions.

We tested the DMPM on seven diverse small businesses which indicated that their goal was growth. We collected data through pre-report questionnaires from leadership and on-site interviews with employees about the daily operations, then mapped processes and points of frustration. A detailed process map provided visual representation of each company’s workflow, and a companion report stratified the data on the map, noted strengths and weaknesses in the operations, and recommended improvements. Post-DMPM questionnaires tracked changes made as a result of the report. All participants in the study indicated that the DMPM process was useful, and 71% of the participants indicated within 60 days that they had implemented or planned to implement changes based on the process. The study supports use of the DMPM as an effective tool to help small businesses transition to the same kind of data-based decision-making that benefits larger companies.