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Decision-Making

From a practical point-of-view, one of the most important human skills is decision-making (judgement and choice). Both at a personal level, and in the context of organizations, decision-making skill strongly affects the quality of life and success. It is not surprising that the topic has received considerable study and is the subject of many different theoretical frameworks (e.g., Hammond, McClelland & Mumpower, 1980; Kaplan & Schwartz, 1975). Decision-making skill is fundamental to management education ( see Bazerman, 1986; Huber, 1980).

A major focus of research on decision-making is the frequent departure from purely rational choices (e.g., Dawes, 1988; Kahneman, Slovic & Tversky, 1982). Indeed, Simon (1976) has made the case that "satisficing" (i.e., making a choice that is good enough) is the most common decision strategy. On the other hand, social psychologists look at decision-making as a matter of conflict resolution and avoidance behaviors due to situational factors (e.g., Janis & Mann, 1977). Rappoport & Summers (1973) discuss the role of probability and the limits to processing capacity in human judgement.

Most theories accept the idea that decision-making consists of a number of steps or stages such as: recognition, formulation, generation of alternatives, information search, selection, and action. Furthermore, it is well recognized that routine cognitive processes such as memory, reasoning, and concept formation play a primary role in decision-making. The study of attitudes, creativity, and problem-solving is closely associated with decision-making. In addition, decision-making behavior is affected (usually adversely) by anxiety and stress.

Adult learning theories (e.g., Cross , Knowles , Rogers ) are relevant to decision-making because they emphasize the role of experience and personal strategies in learning. The double loop learning theory of Argyris is especially relevant to decision-making skills since it focuses on analysis of the assumptions and implicit rules underlying the learning process.

References:

Bazerman, M.H. (1986). Judgement in Managerial Decision Making. New York: Wiley.

Dawes, R. (1988). Rational Choice in an Uncertain World. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Hammond, K.R., McClelland, G.H. & Mumpower, J. (1980). Human Judgement and Decision Making. New York: Praeger.

Huber, G.P. (1980) Managerial Decision Making. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman.

Janis, I.L. & Mann, L. (1977). Decision Making. New York: Free Press.

Kahneman, D., Slovic, P. & Tversky, A. (1982). Judgement Under Uncertainty. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kaplan, M. & Schwartz, S. (1975). Human Judgement and Decision Processes. New York: Academic Press.

Rappoport, L. & Summers, D. (1973). Human Judgement and Social Interaction. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Simon, H. (1976). Administrative Behavior (3rd Ed.). New York: Free Press.


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