Primer on Decision Making : How Decisions Happen
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.
- Electronic book text
- 23 May 1994
- SIMON & SCHUSTER
- The Free Press
- United States
Sidney G. Winter Deloitte and Touche Professor of Management, The Wharton School A wonderfully balanced and urbane account of the realities of decision making in a complicated world. Eric Wanner President, Russell Sage Foundation There are many smart books about decision-making, but very few that are wise. This is one of the few. Nils Brunsson Professor of Management, Stockholm School of Economics An extraordinarily rich and clear analysis by the leading scholar in the field. This book will not only become a standard reader in courses of decision theory but will also serve as an introduction to many related areas. Daniel Kahneman Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology, Princeton University Brilliant, wise, thoroughly original, and deeply rooted in a large body of modern research. An occasion for the gratitude of all students of decision making. Tom Peters The Tom Peters Group March towers above the landscape in his understanding of the process of actual decision making in organizations. This masterful and accessible book is a gem. Herbert A. Simon Nobel Laureate in Economic Science Over a half century of research and writing, March has done more than anyone else to give us an unvarnished picture of how people actually make decisions in organizations, with all the uncertainty, craftiness, illogic, passion, ignorance, and even playfulness that entails. In this book he sums up his incisive insights into the decision-making process, and shares with us some very practical notions about the difficualt task of making intelligent decisions.
About James G. March
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.
Table of contents
ContentsAcknowledgmentsPreface1. Limited RationalityThe Idea of Rational ChoiceLimited (or Bounded) RationalityTheories of Attention and SearchRisk and Risk Taking2. Rule FollowingDecision Making as Rule FollowingRules, Identities, and ActionRule Development and ChangeAppropriate Rules or Consequential Choice?3. Multiple Actors: Teams and PartnersInterpersonal Consistency and TeamsInterpersonal InconsistenciesSocial Bases of InconsistenciesUneasy Partners4. Multiple Actors: Conflict and PoliticsDecisions and PowerDecisions and CoalitionsParticipation and Decision InstabilitiesSingle Actors and Multiple Actors5. Ambiguity and InterpretationOrder and Ambiguity in Decision MakingAmbiguous Bases of Decision MakingLoose Coupling in OrganizationsGarbage Can Decision ProcessDecision Making and the Construction of MeaningAmbiguity and Understanding6. Decision EngineeringDefining Decision IntelligenceImproving AdaptivenessUsing KnowledgeCreating MeaningNotesAdditional ReadingIndexAbout the Author