6.1 Overview of Managerial Decision-Making
- What are the basic characteristics of managerial decision-making?
Managers are constantly making decisions, and those decisions often have significant impacts and implications for both the organization and its stakeholders. Managerial decision-making is often characterized by complexity, incomplete information, and time constraints, and there is rarely one right answer. Sometimes there are multiple good options (or multiple bad options), and the manager must try to decide which will generate the most positive outcomes (or the fewest negative outcomes). Managers must weigh the possible consequences of each decision and recognize that there are often multiple stakeholders with conflicting needs and preferences so that it often will be impossible to satisfy everyone. Finally, managerial decision-making can sometimes have ethical implications, and these should be contemplated before reaching a final decision.
6.2 How the Brain Processes Information to Make Decisions: Reflective and Reactive Systems
- What are the two systems of decision-making in the brain?
The brain processes information to make decisions using one of two systems: either the logical, rational (reflective) system, or the quick, reactive system. The reflective system is better for significant and important decisions; these generally should not be rushed. However, the reactive system can be lifesaving when time is of the essence, and it can be much more efficient when based on developed experience and expertise.
6.3 Programmed and Nonprogrammed Decisions
- What is the difference between programmed and nonprogrammed decisions?
Programmed decisions are those that are based on criteria that are well understood, while nonprogrammed decisions are novel and lack clear guidelines for reaching a solution. Managers can establish rules and guidelines for programmed decisions based on known facts, which enables them to reach decisions quickly. Nonprogrammed decisions require more time to resolve; the decision-maker may need to conduct research, collect additional information, gather opinions and ideas from other people, and so on.
6.4 Barriers to Effective Decision-Making
- What barriers exist that make effective decision-making difficult?
There are numerous barriers to effective decision-making. Managers are limited in their ability to collect comprehensive information, and they are limited in their ability to process all the information that is available cognitively. Managers cannot always know all the possible outcomes of all the possible options, and they often face time constraints that limit their ability to collect all the information that they would like to have. In addition, managers, like all humans, have biases that influence their decision-making, and that can make it difficult for them to make good decisions. One of the most common biases that can confound decision-making is confirmation bias, the tendency for a person to pay attention to information that confirms her existing beliefs and ignore information that conflicts with these existing beliefs. Finally, the conflict between individuals in organizations can make it challenging to reach a good decision.
6.5 Improving the Quality of Decision-Making
- How can a manager improve the quality of her individual decision-making?
Managers tend to get better at decision-making with time and experience, which helps them build expertise. Heuristics and satisficing can also be useful techniques for making programmed decisions quickly. For nonprogrammed decisions, a manager can improve the quality of her decision-making by utilizing a variety of other techniques. Managers should also be careful not to skip steps in the decision-making process, to involve others in the process at various points, and to be creative in generating alternatives. They should also engage in evidence-based decision-making: doing research and collecting data and information on which to base the decision. Effective managers also think critically about the quality of the evidence that they collect, and they carefully consider long-term outcomes and ethical implications prior to making a decision.
6.6 Group Decision-Making
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of group decision-making, and how can a manager improve the quality of group decision-making?
Groups can make better decisions than individuals because group members can contribute more knowledge and a diversity of perspectives. Groups will tend to generate more options as well, which can lead to better solutions. Also, having people involved in making decisions that will affect them can improve their attitudes about the decision that is made. However, groups sometimes fail to generate added value in the decision-making process as a result of groupthink, conflict, or suppression of dissent.
Managers can improve the quality of group decision-making in a number of ways. First, when forming the group, the manager should ensure that the individual group members are diverse in terms of knowledge and perspectives. The manager may also want to assign a devil’s advocate to discourage groupthink. Managers should also encourage all group members to contribute their ideas and opinions, and they should not allow a single voice to dominate. Finally, they should not allow personality conflicts to derail group processes.