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Investigating the success of decision making processes

Nutt, P.C. (2008) Investigating the success of decision making processes. Journal of Management Studies, 45 (2). pp. 425-455. ISSN 0022-2380

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Abstract

A decision making process is made up of action-taking steps indicating how to make a decision. When linked to indicators of success, process provides the basis for building an action theory for decision making. The success of many different types of processes must be documented before such a theory can be constructed. In this research, processes called 'idea imposition' and 'discovery' are investigated by analysing 202 organizational decisions and their outcomes. Discovery was derived from prescriptive literature, which stresses logical and political rationality. Idea imposition was inferred from the descriptive/interpretive literature, which stresses pragmatics and sense making. Some of the discovery efforts may be abandoned to exploit an opportunity, becoming an 'emergent opportunity' process. Idea imposition efforts end if the motivating idea fails, calling for steps to find a replacement with a 'redevelopment' process. Analysis revealed that discovery was more successful than idea imposition and both process adaptations. Discovery was more successful than the other three processes no matter what the urgency, importance, resource level, initial support, decision maker level, sector, or type of decision.