Decision-making models - Sample Essay

Due to the importance of the group decision-making process, decision-making models can be used to establish a systematic means of developing effective group decision making. From the readings, in general, four group decision-making models can be identified each possessing distinct advantages and disadvantages. These four models are the rational, political, process, and garbage can models. In order to determine the appropriate use of a group decision-making model, the advantages and disadvantages of using a model should be discussed.

The advantage of using a model is that it helps to enhance understanding (Huber 1980). More specifically, a model assists in identifying the functioning of a group. It lends structure to a procedure that is dynamic and conceptual. By lending structure, it facilitates the identification and resolution of problems that can arise during the course and as a consequence of the decision-making process. This facilitation in turn can assist in improving the group decision-making process. The potential disadvantage or pitfall to be aware of when using a model is that of being trapped by it.

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Using one particular model should not preclude the consideration of other models or other means of assessing group decision making. If a model is strictly adhered to without being open to other potential ideas, valuable information may be missed due to blatant disregard or misclassification of the information. Therefore, this limitation should be kept in mind in utilizing a group decision-making model. (Ryan K. Lahti 1996) The first model is the rational model. This model is based upon an economic view of decision making. It is grounded on goals/objectives, alternatives, consequences and optimality.

The model assumes that complete information regarding the decision to be made is available and one correct conception of a problem, or decision to be made can be determined. The model further assumes that the decision-makers consistently assess the advantages and disadvantages of any alternatives with goals and objectives in mind. They then evaluate the consequences of selecting or not selecting each alternative. The alternative that provides the maximum utility (i. e. , the optimal choice) will be selected. The rational model is the baseline against which other models are compared.

(Allison 1999; Huber 1980; March 1994) The most salient advantage of the rational model is that it utilizes a logical, sequential approach. Decisions are made deductively by determining the goals or objectives to be obtained; evaluating the potential alternatives based on the information at hand and choosing the optimal alternative. In other words, the model is simple and intuitive in nature. The rational model does possess a salient disadvantage. The model assumes that there are no intrinsic biases to the decision-making process (Ryan K. Lahti 1996).

This optimism may not be totally realistic, since teachers and school administrators involved in the process bring their own perceptions and mental models into such a situation (March 1994). Therefore, it seems that intrinsic biases are inevitable and something that should be addressed. The second basic decision-making model considers the preconceived notions that decision-makers bring to the table in the decision process. This model is the political model. In contrast to the preceding model, the individuals involved do not accomplish the decision task through rational choice in regard to objectives.

The decision-makers are motivated by and act on their own needs and perceptions. This process involves a cycle of bargaining among the decision-makers in order for each one to try to get his or her perspective to be the one of choice. More specifically, this process involves each decision-maker trying to sway powerful people within the situation to adopt his/her viewpoint and influence the remaining decision-makers (Allison 1999; Jeffrey Pfeffer 1981). Furthermore, the political model does not involve making full information available or a focus on the optimal viewpoint like that of the rational model.

Full information is highly unlikely, since the political model operates based upon negotiation that is often influenced by power and favors. In fact, information is often withheld in order to better maneuver a given perspective. Since information is often withheld and subsequently incomplete, the optimal viewpoint is not a key aspect of this model. The advantages of the political model remains that it provides a representation of the subjective manner in which the real world often operates, and it can minimize conflict. Individuals will always have their personal biases and agendas that influence their behavior.

By identifying or acknowledging this fact in the decision-making process, potential problems and conflict can be foreseen and minimized. The swaying of powerful people to support a particular viewpoint also minimizes conflict. Once the powerful people support this perspective, other group members usually fall in line behind them. While the political model has the advantage of emulating the way the real world operates (i. e. , a cycle of bargaining related to personal agendas); this fact is also a disadvantage, because the best solution or decision may not be selected.

Furthermore, the nature of bargaining and maneuvering (e. g. , withholding information and social pressure) can produce effects that are long-lasting and detrimental. Once they discover it, the individuals involved in the decision may not appreciate the duplicity inherent in the process. In contrast to the political model, the third basic model of decision making is more structured. This model is the process model. With the process model, decisions are made based upon standard operating procedures, or pre-established guidelines within the organization.

Actions and behaviors occur in accordance with these procedures or guidelines (Allison 1999; March 1994). Additionally, the organization of past, present, and future events, as well as conformity, are integral parts to this model (Allison 1971; March 1994). The organization of the past, present and future events are important, because they can be used as a consistent foundation for decision making. Considering these time events provides further refinement of the guidelines that help to determine outcomes.

Conformity is an integral part of the process model since it is the means by which doubt or incertitude is dealt with during the decision task. If decision-makers are uncertain as to the potential effectiveness or the results of a decision, they conform to the pre-established standard. This conformity should not be construed to mean that the decision would not have a solid foundation. In this case, conformity merely relates to the fact that the reasoning for the decision is based upon pre-determined guidelines. (Ryan K. Lahti 1996) The fourth model of decision making is the garbage can model.

This model is most appropriate for judgment tasks in organizations where the technologies are not clear, the involvement of participants fluctuates in the amount of time and effort given, and choices are inconsistent and not well-defined (Cohen, March & Olsen 1972). In such a school, an opportunity to make a decision is described as a garbage can into which many types of problems and solutions are dropped independently of each other by decision-makers as these problems and solutions are generated. The problems, solutions and decision-makers are not necessarily related to each other.

They move from one decision opportunity to another in such a manner that the solutions, the time needed and the problems seem to rely on a chance alignment of components to complete the decision. These components are the combination of options available at a given time, the combination of problems, the combination of solutions needing problems, and the external demands on the decision makers (Cohen, March & Olsen 1972). The notable advantage of the garbage can model is that it provides a real-world representation of the non-rational manner in which decisions are often made within a school.

Not all decisions are made in a logical, political, or even standard fashion. Occasionally, decisions are made on an ad hoc basis or by “flying by the seat of the pants” when the solutions, problems and individuals involved in the task happen to align. Despite its representation of the non-rational, real-world manner in which decisions are often made, the garbage can model does have an important disadvantage. It is not the most efficient means of making a decision. Decision-making is considered a procedure for finding solutions to problems.

Unfortunately, this often does not happen if the garbage can model represents the manner in which decisions are made within an organization. Problems are worked on in given situations, but choices are made only when the combination of problems, solutions and individuals allow the decision to happen (i. e. , are in alignment). Consequently, the alignment of the problems, solutions, and individuals often occurs after the opportunity to make a decision regarding a problem has passed or occurs even before the problem has been discovered (Cohen, March & Olsen, 1972).

In discussing the four general models, a model is a starting point for evaluating a process, and group decision making is a process. One way of evaluating the decision making process is to determine which model, if any, a group is using to make decisions. Once the model is determined, the decision procedure can be analyzed in order to facilitate the improvement of the procedure. The procedure can be improved by anticipating potential problems and acting accordingly. For instance, time wasted due to a lack of direction and organization can be eliminated.

Knowing that a group makes decisions by following a rational model enables the decision-makers to expedite the decision process. These individuals can expedite the process by preparing themselves for group meetings by becoming familiar with any goals or objectives, possible alternatives and consequences of these alternatives as well as potential optimal choices as they relate to a decision. (Lahti 1996) The knowledge that a group follows a political model in making decisions is also helpful.

This knowledge can assist group members in preparing the supporting information for their perspective. This preparation can assist the individuals in presenting their viewpoint more persuasively. Consequently, their viewpoint has a better chance of being adopted as the one of choice. (Lahti 1996) Knowing that a group utilizes a process model for making decisions can also increase the effectiveness of the decision procedure. Being aware that judgments are made relative to standard operating procedures enables individuals to anticipate potential obstacles to a decision.

Consequently, these individuals can research the pre-established guidelines that may pose these problems and adjust their argument or point of view accordingly. (Lahti 1996) If group members are aware that decisions are made by using a garbage can model, they at least have the comfort of knowing that these decisions follow some sort of method. Granted the method is somewhat random and chaotic, but it is a method nonetheless. Moreover, identifying the model when the decision process does not function effectively is of value, because the decision-makers then know the method to avoid.

They should avoid the current model that produced the ineffective results. This avoidance can be accomplished by agreeing as a group to try to adopt a different approach (i. e. , a new model). (Lahti 1996) It should be pointed out that even if the group decision-making procedure does not fit one of the aforementioned general models, the process of analyzing the decision task in and of itself in order to identify a model is beneficial. This analysis provides valuable insight into the dynamics of how decisions are made within the group whether or not one of the four models is actually discovered.

The cognitive flow of the group is important to note, because it enables an understanding of the other group members’ rationale for judgment. Furthermore, this cognitive flow may spawn the creation of a novel group decision-making model. Group decision-making models provide form to an intangible and abstract concept. (Lahti 1996) Ways In Which Decision-Making Can Benefit Employees and the School Despite the fact that negative factors such as groupthink and subconscious collaboration endanger the expanded decision-making process.

Peter F. Drucker (1980) Managing in Turbulent Times emphasize the point that a spreading out of the responsibility for decisions prevents an imbalanced individual identification by a few corporate leaders between corporate policy and personal morality. In other words, the more people there are sharing the decision-making, the less likely that there will develop totalitarian personalities at the top of the school who believe that “what is good for the school is good, period.

” Drucker (1980) notes that such decision-sharing in the organization will in the future prove not only beneficial but inevitable, as the “power follows property” maxim deepens employee participation in every level of corporate life. Employees in the distant past – – – slaves, serfs, indentured servants, etc. – – – were completely dependent on their employers. Employees today are much more powerful economically, academically, and because of that increased power they seek more and more to utilize it.

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