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Chapter Eleven DECISION MAKING Introduction Many believe decision making to be the essential task of an executive quotDecision making is only one of the tasks of an executive It usually takes but a small fraction of his time But to make decisions is the specific executive task Only executives make decisions Drucker 1966 p 113 Decision making may be discussed as a skill in itself apart from problem solving because it may be used to reach a conclu sion on a matter for which no problem analysis has been used or is needed Many books have been devoted to decision making without any discussion of problem solving The reverse is not possible since a necessary step in problem solving is deciding on a solution Many writers use decision making and problem solving and at times policy making interchangeably to indicate that the same skills are used in these processes In fact making a determination of the most pertinent problem to solve has been considered the most important act in decision making Kolb 1983 For the purpose of examining the problemsolvin g model decision making is separated to indicate the distinctly different roles or processes that a manager undertakes Although we want to avoid a rigid stepbystep approach to solving problems for teaching purposes we must delineate 114 Problem Solving in Recreation and Parks the steps that an effective problem solver follows Decision making is one of them and in this model represents the point at which the major decision is made However smaller decisions may have been enacted throughout the process If as Drucker says decision making is the specific executive task selecting a solution to the problem is the specific administrative decision in problem solving To makea final decision it is necessary to know something about decision making The leisure service manager as decision maker at this stage has to draw on all the available expertise and information to determine which of the possible solutions is most likely to succeed One of these solutions or perhaps a combination must be selected Before discussing how decisions are made some background is provided regarding the individual who makes decisions Individual Decision Making Research and experience have presented the pros and cons of personality in uence on decision making skills Although we shall concentrate on the personal attributes believed necessary for making decisions it should be noted that many decisions are made without a strong personally integrated decision maker through means of analysts or computerized programs and mod els Various quantitative aids though successful do not in themSelves meet the goal of practicality for many problems faced by leisure service managers Thus the discussion of personality is important because the personal idiosyncrasies of the decision maker have greater bearing than they would if there was more reliance on quantitative tools This is not to deny that the choice to use every mathematical model or computer program is in u enced by the personality of the person involved The problem solver is primarily a problem analyzer The manager as a decision maker goes beyond analysis into choice of risk in and responsibility for the consequences of a solution The skills needed for decision making are comparable to those for problem analysis with exception of a far greater amount of risk The decision maker is the one who assumes ultimate responsibil ity for a solution Even if the decision is made by a group the risk Decision Making 115 and responsibility are borne by one person perhaps two in the organization It is possible to delegate problem analysis but we cannot delegate decision making no matter how democratic our methods We can share problem solving with staff and others but unfortunately responsibility and risk are entirely with the administrator In many large organizations the problem analyzer and the final decision maker often are not the same person One might be responsible for defining a problem and offering specific solu tions to a decision maker for final selection The decision maker then attempts to solve the problem by selecting one of the solutions offered by the analysts Often our image of a decision maker is that of an executive who delegates problem analysis then rapidly synthesizes the information received and reaches a decision This decision then is quickly implemented and with out fail is a success Unfortunately in many organizations especially public service organizations decision making and the people involved are somewhat less glorified For example municipal leisure service agencies usually do not have the financial resources to afford separate persons to operate as problem analyzers and decision makers More likely these tasks will be performed by one person or group working on the problem from start to finish To separate these two functions of problem solving for these organizations would be expensive and somewhat arbitrary Most staff members are involved with organizational problems and would have much to contribute to any problem resolution The problemsolving model not only reflects today39s prob lem environments but also seeks to include the kinds of prob lems that might be encountered in the future The type of decision maker needed will be one who can adapt to rapid change The future decision maker will be more dependent on others understand computers and other quantitative technolo gies and be aware of changes in the more immediate and larger environments An effective decision maker is well informed not only about agency concerns but also about society and the world especially as they affect professional decisions Nothing is more valuable for decision making than broad eclectic knowl edge If the decision makers are unable to adapt to change be cause of the personal and cultural blocks already discussed skill 116 Problem Solving in Recreation and Parks in decision making will be greatly curtailed Leisure service managers must be aware of the changes in society and adapt to these changes Understanding these changes should include a willingness to modify personal and organizational behavior to re ect modern realities It is not enough to sympathize with demands for changes in program and service delivery action should be undertaken If leisure service managers make decisions without consid erin g the psychological and social forces within themselves and in society they are simply being naive about the impact of these factors on decisions All the blocks that were previously dis cussed rise again Decisions are not necessarily made objectively they are made by people and are often subjective Emotions play a large role in decision making no matter how strong the attempt at rationality To be a rational decision maker requires that positive emotions be permitted to surface and negative emo tions are dealt with confidently The first step toward achieving an emotionalrational bal ance is to examine ourselves and others in decision making introspection will be most beneficial not only in this phase in the decision process but later when the solution is implemented The more time spent now on understanding the probable barri ers to decision making the better equipped the decision maker will be to handle any objections that might arise during imple mentation A complete analysis of personalities is not suggested but a candid appraisal of individual shortcomings of those bound to affect the decision is needed Being aware of potentially troublesome emotions will reduce their interference in the efforts to make a decision When objectives were first set for solving the problem these objectives were developed to be realistic under known constraints Decision makers must comprehend what personal drives needs and compulsions are motivating individuals espe cially when decisions are crucial to professional interests and the well being of a community An emotional response to a solution should not preclude the selection of an effective solution Figure 111 suggests an individual s reaction to an initial solution In discussing barriers to decision making Agryis indicated that interpersonal relationships provided the greatest source of frustration for managers In his study of six companies in which Decision Making 117 Figure 111 Reaction to a Problem Solution Personal Introspectton Personal Analysns 39 iv Reduction of Emotive Responses nearly 300 group decision makin g meetings were observed the major findings were 1 quotThe actual behavior of top executives during decision making meetings does not jibe with their attitudes and prescriptions about effective executive action 2 The gap that often exists between what executives say and how they behave helps create barriers to openness and trust to the effective search for alternatives to innovation and to flexibilityin the organization 3 These barriers are more destructive in important decision making meetings than in routine meetings and they upset effective managers more than ineffective ones 4 The barriers cannot be broken down simply by intellectual exercises Rather executives need feedback concerning their behavior and opportunities to develop selfawareness in actionTo this end certain kinds of questioning are valu able playing back and analyzing tape recordings of meet ings has proved to be a helpful step and laboratory educa 118 Problem Solving in Recreation and Parks tion programs are valuable Agryis 1966 p90 In most cases Agryis found that executives seldom took risks or experimented with new ideas and feelings helped others to be open and take risks used a behavior style that encouraged individuality and trust or expressed any feelings He suggested that the use of a solitary decision maker was over and stressed the need to handle group decision making carefully quotNo one man seems to be able to have all the knowledge necessary to make an effective decision If individual contributions are necessary in group meetings it is im portant that a climate be created that does not discourage innovation risk taking and honest leveling between managers in their conversations with one another The value of a group is to maximize individual contributions p 441 An effective decision maker is one who is willing and able to take risks and to encourage others to do so Because of the politics of decision making the viewpoints of all those involved in the problem must be taken into account At times political skill may detract from the willingness to take risks Decision makers may concentrate more on reducing con icts and strengthening the esprit de corps only to lose sight of the need to take a chance regardless of group harmony Limits to Individual Decision Making A rational approach to decision making closely follows the problemsolving steps presented in Chapter Five It assumes that managers go through each stage until the best solution has been determined Herbert Simon 1976 has presented a theory of administrative decision making that suggests that managers are not rational decision makers He posits that a rational decision maker would select the best alternative from a range of available solutions This would be considered an optimal solu tion However Simon has suggested that managers are satisficers instead of optimizers That is while managers are Decision Making 1 19 seeking solutions they choose alternatives that are good enough to deal with the problem In this way the selection of decisions rests on one of the first alternatives that meet the criteria of acceptance Satisficing stems from bounded rationality or limits to the cognitive abilities of individuals to process information regarding decisions For the leisure service manager who will often be dealing with complex problems limited information processing capabilities may result in biased decisions Dirkin 1983 Another example of managers difficulty with rational decision making was reported by Soelberg 1967 In studying the decision making processes of job searches of MIT students he found that early in the decisionmaking process students identified an implicit favorite At this early stage a decision has essentially been rendered by the individual and the decision process becomes one of selfjustification regarding the favorite Following the identification of an implicit favorite individuals identify a confirmation choice alternative This is followed by a search for information to assist the decision maker in a selection Information is gathered that supports the implicit favorite and disconfirms the alternative This study is illustrative of a deci sionmaking process that is very subjective and intuitive in nature rather than one based on rational choice or even on persuasive information Groups and Decision Making It is recommended if possible that a group rather than just one person be assigned to handle problem analysis If this task is limited to one person it is likely to result in an overburdened staff member and a poorly perceived problem In the past when problems were perhaps simpler tosolve and the environment not so complex or dynamic the sole problem solver decision maker was undoubtedly effective Such solitary action is no longer prevalent in most organizations Even simple problems affect many persons and have a multitude of consequences Expertise and the insights of others are necessary for effective solutions Making decisions alone may be simpler but the solution may not be as good as one reached cooperatively 120 Problem Solving in Recreation and Parks Many of the quotsituation variables in measuring good deci sions reflect the need for others Vroom and Yetton 1973 Situation Variables 1 Rational Quality Requirement Does it make a difference which course of action is adopted 2 Adequacy of Information Does the manager now have the adequateinformation to make a quality analysis 3 Structure of Situation Does the manager know exactly what information is missing and how to get the information 4 Commitment Requirement ls commitment to the solution by others critical to effective implementation 5 Commitment without Participation Will they commit to a decision made by the manager without their active partici pation 6 Goal Congruence Is there goal congruence between the subordinates and the organization 7 Conflict about Alternatives Is there likely to be conflict about alternative solutions among the subordinates 8 Subordinate Competency Do the personnel in the organiza tion have the skill and knowhow to implement the idea suggested Note Subordinates refers to those peOple whose information is needed or whose commitment is required for effective implementation of the solution Several advantages to group decision making have been suggested Huber 1980 identified three benefits to group decision making as compared to individual decision making First the availability of information and its processing are en hanced and more complete when groups are utilized Second the acceptance and understanding of the decision by those who must implement it is greater when individuals participate in the decisionmaking process Third subordinate information and skill can be enhanced through inclusion in the decisionmaking process Although there are many advantages to group decision making disadvantages to group decision making have also been identified in the literature FiVe general disadvantages to group Decision Making 121 decision making of which a manager should be aware are pro vided below 1 A greater amount of personnel time tends to be consumed in group decision making 2 Goals other than those considered most important by top management are more likely to be involved in group deci sion making 3 Unwanted expectations that future decisions will involve group participation may be a consequence of previous participation 4 Disagreement among members may result in the group s being unable to reach a decision Huber 1980 p 148 5 Groups tend to make more extreme decisions than indi viduals That is Once a decision direction is accepted members shift their views to the extreme end of the origi nally favored position The result may be highly risky or conservative decisions Myers 82 Lamm 1975 One significant problem that has been identified with group decision making has been identified by Janis 1971 and termed groupthink The concept of groupthink emerged from in depth analysis of poor policy decisions by government lead ers Janis examined documents and historical reports about formal and informal meetings and conversations of policy mak ers that led to disastrous decisions such as the blundered Bay of Figs invasion unpreparedness for the attack on Pearl Harbor the Korean War stalemate and the escalation of the Vietnam War Janis 1971 1983 has described groupthink as a mode of thinking that individuals engage in when they are deeply in volved in a cohesive group Members of this group strive for unanimity and override their motivation to objectively evaluate alternative courses of action Group norms are developed that support concurrence with group members at the expense of critical thinking One of the main features of groupthink is that social pressures are brought to bear on those members who take a dissenting position Social pressures result from group norms that serve to keep group members tied to positions or decisions that have already been formulated even when the group position isunworkable or disturbs the conscience ofmembers Groupthink 122 Problem Solving in Recreation and Parks fosters a deterioration of mental efficiency reality testing and moral judgment that results from in group pressures Janis 1983 p9 Eight characteristics of groupthink have been identified and are described in Table 111 Janis 1983 has suggested several specific methods for preventing the occurrence of groupthink Of the various tactics discussed one may be particu larly beneficial for success It is important for each member of the group to play the role of critical evaluator and thoroughly examine the strengths and weaknesses of proposed solutions Group leaders can foster this evaluation by encouraging mem bers to openly air any objections and doubts Providing an atmosphere that does not inhibit members from expressing their views can do much to facilitate the expression of opposing viewpoints Further it is vital that group leaders do not in uence members by indicating their preferences or biasing individuals in some manner In essence being aware of the possibility of groupthink and facilitating full participation of group members may play a significant role in alleviating this problem Types of DecisionMaking Groups There are five different group decision making procedures that are widely recognized and utilized These decisionmaking processes include ordinary brainstorming statistical aggrega tion nominal group technique and delphi Brief descriptions of each are provided below Murnighan 1981 Ordinary Group A committee structure with a chairperson characterizes the ordinary group Usually a very unstructured process the meeting is openended and the discussion is free owing The meeting often becomes fatiguing for members and as a result the last solution offered may be accepted in order to move on to other issues Benefits do arise from close interper sonal contact This procedure may be useful when group mem bers know and respect each other Brainstorming This technique was described in Chapter Nine One limiting feature of this group process is that it does not include a decision rendering procedure Another mechanism must be employed to reach a decision after brainstorming has been concluded Decision Making 123 Table 111 Symptoms of Groupthink Invulnerability Members share an illusion of invulner ability that provides some degree of reas surance about obvious dangers leading them to become overoptimistic and will ing to take extraordinary risks It also causes them to fail to respond to clear warnings of danger Rationale Members rationalize their behavior dis counting warnings and other forms of negative behavior Morality Members ignore the ethical or moral con sequences of their decisions believing in the inherent morality of the group Stereotypes Members view opponents as evil weak or stupid and therefore attempts at nego tiating differences are not warranted Pressure Members apply pressure to individuals who express doubts or question the valid ity of a perspective shared by the majority Selfcensorship Members keep silent about any questions or misgivings about the group s decision Unanimity Members believe that individuals in the group share the same perspective Mindguards Members protect the leader and other group members from adverse informa tion that might affect the groups consen sus Adapted from Janis I L 1971 Groupthink Psychology Today June 124 Problem Solving in Recreation and Parks Statistical Aggregation Statistical aggregation is limited to dealing with quantitative problems The process consists of gathering information from individuals without any actual group interaction Individuals provide estimates of their best judgment about a problem These are collected and measures of central tendency employed such as the median the midpoint of a range of scores or the mode the most frequently occurring score to quickly arrive at a solution Nominal Group Technique The NGT and the six stages of the group process were also described in Chapter Nine One of the features of the NGT is the emphasis on independent consider ation of the problem and solutions by group members There is little interaction among group members which greatly limits the in uencing effects of opinionated individuals as well as the potential for groupthink Delphi This group procedure has three important fea tures l anonymity 2 controlled feedback and 3 statistical group response Dalkey 1969 This procedure uses experts from a variety of geographic areas to react to issues or problems through a mail survey First a questionnaire is developed that addresses the problem and is sent to participants This provides delphi members with the opportunity for individual brainstorm in g to identify solutions to the problem When the questionnaires are returned the information is summarized and presented again through a questionnaire through which individuals priori tize solutions Table 11 2 contrasts each of these five decisionmaking procedures against several important evaluative criteria No table among the criteria evaluated are the high ratings for the NGT and Delphi methods with regard to the quantity and quality of ideas produced as well as the task orientation of group members In support of the value of these two methods Van de Ven and Delbecq 1974 concluded that the NGT and Delphi are superior to the interacting group when a factfinding problem that requires the pooled judgments of a group is needed The NGT should be utilized when individuals can be easily as sembled and the problems that are faced require immediate attention The delphi technique is preferred when it is not cost effective or too inconvenient to bring individuals together in one location and the problems do not require a quick solution il aiile 112 A Comparison of Decision Processes Aggregation NGT Delphi Ordinary Brainstorming Criteria NA High High Moderate Low Number of ideas Moderate NA High High Low Quality of ideas Moderate Low Low None High Social pressure Low High Low Low Moderate Timemoney costs High High High Low High Task orientation Potential for inter Decision Making 8 3 o 3 o o 4 2 4 o o 5 28 5 33 E 759 8 E m 2 E E E A A 5 it E 20 lt2 4 IE Z 3 2 8 E in in m 1 I 8 a D E s 8 0 ME 5 a o a g 1 QOE quotmg a 5 8 52 a s 8 Es LL 0 Low High Low Moderate High Builds group cohesiveness Not applicable 125 Reprinted by permission of publisher from MANAGEMENT REVIEW February 1981 1981 American Managemenl Association New York All rights reserved