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The analogy as a decision model: a study of management team members in two consulting firms
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Business Administration and Industrial Engineering.
1995 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Decision making is often characterized as the trading-off between means and ends, facilitating a "rational choice". One central argument of this thesis is that the rational actor metaphor is over-emphasized in management theory. Due to the extensive use of this metaphor, problems that do not lend themselves to computation are treated as a residual category composed of judgment, intuition or rules of thumb. As a result of the concentration on well-structured problems, there is a tendency to approach unstructured problems analytically. Management science techniques have therefore had a negligible impact on decision making concerning unstructured problems. In much of the theory concerning decision making, the subjective differences among decision makers are overlooked. The individual characteristics of decision makers give birth to differences in handling problematic situations, and research suggests that decision makers prefer decision models that fit those characteristics. The overriding purpose of this study is to generate knowledge as to experience as a basis for decision making. The analogy as a decision model refers to decision making based on information transfer from a previous problematic situation to a new problematic situation. The specific purposes are to identify categories of problematic situations where the analogy is used as a decision model, describe and analyze the use of the analogy as a decision model in the context of those problematic situations, and to describe and analyze the relation between decision-makers' characateristics and their use of the analogy as a decision model. The empirical evidence consists of two small "case studies" of management team members. Data was collected via in-depth interviews, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and a short questionnaire on individual characteristics. It was found that the analogy as a decision model is used in unstructured and simple problematic situations. Past experience from similar or related problematic situations facilitates the making of decisions with little use of official or written information. In some unstructured and simple situations, the analogy is supplemented with other decison models. Our results suggest that the relationships between decision makers, problematic situations and decision models are complex. Some indications suggest that the characteristics of the problematic situation may have a stronger impact on the actors' use of decision models, than their individual characteristics. One important result of this study is the observation of a divergence between decision models-in-words and decision models-in-use. This would imply a tendency on behalf of decision makers to interpret their actions in a way that suggest a formal, rational decision-making approach, although this is not reflected in their actual behavior.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Högskolan i Luleå , 1995. , 178 p.
Licentiate thesis / Luleå University of Technology… → 31 dec 1996, ISSN 0280-8242 ; 1995:31
Keyword [en]
Business / Economics - Business studies
Keyword [sv]
Ekonomi - Företagsekonomi
Research subject
Accounting and Control
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-25810Local ID: b3794940-17c5-11de-b1a6-000ea68e967bOAI: diva2:998967

Godkänd; 1995; 20090323 (anders_n)

Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2016-10-20Bibliographically approved

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