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The spatial knowledge of retail decision makers: capturing and interpreting group insight using a composite cognitive map

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The paper argues that existing techniques for retail site evaluation ignore the useful "soft" insights of retail executives. It outlines a technique for constructing a composite map of retail decision makers' insights into the location influences affecting store performance. It has two objectives: to show how the method can be used to construct a basic knowledge base by helping to elicit decision makers' spatial knowledge; and to clarify the status of the maps in terms of the process of group decision making. Illustrations are given from current work drawn from interviews with executives of a major multiple superstore retailer in the UK. The paper shows how composite mapping provides a means to reduce the ideas of a group without any loss of detail, using key cognitive constructs as a "glue" to provide a template against which individual maps can be compared and better understood. The interpretative method provides a flexible and expedient means for constructing an organizational knowledge base for site location - the value of which can then be tested for modelling purposes - and as an effective counterweight to normative procedures.
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Keywords: COGNITIVE MAPPING; DECISION MAKING; INTUITION; MORPHOLOGY; RETAILING; SITE ASSESSMENT; SPATIAL KNOWLEDGE; TOPOLOGY

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Booker Chair in Retail Marketing, University of Durham Business School, Mill Hill Lane, Durham City, DH1 3LB, UK. Tel: +44 191 374 1279 2: University of Durham, UK 3: University of Edinburgh, UK.

Publication date: 2000-07-01

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