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A Critical Review of the Literature on Spreadsheet Errors

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Executive Summary

Among those who study spreadsheet use, it is widely accepted that errors are prevalent in operational spreadsheets and that errors can lead to poor decisions and cost millions of dollars. However, relatively little is known about what types of errors actually occur, how they were created, how they can be detected, and how they can be avoided or minimized. This paper summarizes and critiques the research literature on spreadsheet errors from the viewpoint of a manager who wishes to improve operational spreadsheet quality. The paper also offers suggestions for future research directions that can improve the state of knowledge about spreadsheet errors and mitigate spreadsheet risks.

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