Primer on Decision Making: How Decisions Happen (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, May 23, 1994 - Business & Economics - 289 pages
4 Reviews
Building on lecture notes from his acclaimed course at Stanford University, James March provides a brilliant introduction to decision making, a central human activity fundamental to individual, group, organizational, and societal life. March draws on research from all the disciplines of social and behavioral science to show decision making in its broadest context. By emphasizing how decisions are actually made -- as opposed to how they should be made -- he enables those involved in the process to understand it both as observers and as participants.

March sheds new light on the decision-making process by delineating four deep issues that persistently divide students of decision making: Are decisions based on rational choices involving preferences and expected consequences, or on rules that are appropriate to the identity of the decision maker and the situation? Is decision making a consistent, clear process or one characterized by ambiguity and inconsistency? Is decision making significant primarily for its outcomes, or for the individual and social meanings it creates and sustains? And finally, are the outcomes of decision processes attributable solely to the actions of individuals, or to the combined influence of interacting individuals, organizations, and societies? March's observations on how intelligence is -- or is not -- achieved through decision making, and possibilities for enhancing decision intelligence, are also provided.

March explains key concepts of vital importance to students of decision making and decision makers, such as limited rationality, history-dependent rules, and ambiguity, and weaves these ideas into a full depiction of decision making.

He includes a discussion of the modern aspects of several classic issues underlying these concepts, such as the relation between reason and ignorance, intentionality and fate, and meaning and interpretation.

This valuable textbook by one of the seminal figures in the history of organizational decision making will be required reading for a new generation of scholars, managers, and other decision makers.
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thcson - LibraryThing

This seems like a good guide to decision theory, although I haven't read any other books in this field. The author mentions that this book is based on his lectures and I think the book clearly ... Read full review

Review: A Primer on Decision Making

User Review  - Sarah - Goodreads

Interesting if you can get through the scholarly language and/or have a dictionary with you at all times. Read full review

Contents

Limited Rationality
1
Rule Following
57
Teams and Partners
103
Conflict and Politics
139
Ambiguity and Interpretation
175
Decision Engineering
221
Notes
273
Index
283
About the Author
290
Copyright

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Page vi - ... occasions in which individuals and institutions achieve coherence and reduce equivocality? Or are they occasions in which inconsistency and ambiguity are exhibited, exploited, and expanded? The third issue is whether decision making is an instrumental activity or an interpretive activity. Are decisions to be understood primarily in terms of the way they fit into a problem solving, adaptive calculus? Or are they to be understood primarily in terms of the way they fit into efforts to establish...
Page vi - Are decisions to be understood primarily in terms of the way they fit into a problem solving, adaptive calculus? Or are they to be understood primarily in terms of the way they fit into efforts to establish individual and social meaning? The fourth issue is whether outcomes of decision processes are seen as primarily attributable to the actions of autonomous actors or to the systemic properties of an interacting ecology. Is it possible to describe decisions as resulting from the intentions, identities,...
Page ix - A rational procedure is one that pursues a logic of consequence. It makes a choice conditional on the answers to four basic questions: 1 . The question of alternatives: What actions are possible? 2. The question of expectations: What future consequences might follow from each alternative? How likely is each possible consequence, assuming that alternative is chosen? 3. The question of preferences: How valuable (to the decision maker) are the consequences associated with each of the alternatives? 4....
Page v - Do decision makers pursue a logic of consequence, making choices among alternatives by evaluating their consequences in terms of prior preferences? Or do they pursue a logic of appropriateness, fulfilling identities or roles by recognizing situations and following rules that match appropriate behavior to the situations they encounter?
Page vi - ... which inconsistency and ambiguity are exhibited, exploited, and expanded? The third issue is whether decision making is an instrumental activity or an interpretive activity. Are decisions to be understood primarily in terms of the way they fit into a problem solving, adaptive calculus? Or are they to be understood primarily in terms of the way they fit into efforts to establish individual and social meaning? The fourth issue is whether outcomes of decision processes are seen as primarily attributable...
Page v - The second issue is whether decision making is typified more by clarity and consistency or by ambiguity and inconsistency. Are decisions occasions in which individuals and institutions achieve coherence and reduce equivocality? Or are they occasions in which inconsistency and ambiguity are exhibited, exploited, and expanded? The third issue is whether decision making is an instrumental activity or an interpretive...
Page v - Decision Making The first issue is whether decisions are to be viewed as choice-based or rule-based. Do decision makers pursue a logic of consequence, making choices among alternatives by evaluating their consequences in terms of prior preferences? Or do they pursue a logic of appropriateness, fulfilling identities or rules by...

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About the author (1994)

James G. March is the Jack Steele Parker Professor of International Management and a professor of political science and sociology at Stanford University. Professor March is the author and co-author of numerous books and hundreds of journal articles on organizations, decision making, and leadership. He lives in Stanford, California.

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