Scientific Advisor: Erhard Friedberg
===) DOWNLOAD THE EDITORIAL AND DETAILED CONTENTS (PDF)
This collection of comments and reflections by many of the grand masters of organization theory brings the challenge of analyzing organizational decision-making to life, and turns abstract concepts into vivid human challenges. Students of public and private organizations will delight in seeing some of the leading social scientists of our times responding to the skillful inquiries of Erhard Friedberg.
Walter W. Powell Stanford University
There are three good reasons to start a collection about questions of organization with decision or Decision-Making. The first is a historical reason. You might remember that Herbert A. Simon in his first book, Administrative Behavior, said “in order to study organizations, you have to study decision.” I think he was right. That’s the first reason. Our understanding of organizations has made progress through our thinking about decision-making and our thinking about decision-making has made progress through our analysis of organizations. So, the two are intertwined very strongly.
E. Friedberg, Professor at Sciences Po (Paris)
- 77 video CLIPS (4 HOURS) with some of the founding fathers of the thought like Herbert A. Simon (Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, 1978) and James G. March, and also, Nils Brunsson, Michel Crozier, Peter Drucker, Charles E. Lindblom, Walter W. Powell, Jean-Daniel Reynaud, Thomas C. Schelling (Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, 2005), and W. Richard Scott, (linked in a pedagogical way).
- A QUIZ, which is not an instrument of evaluation, but an instrument in a way to help the user “digests” what is presented. It is a way of helping him to go back to this or that part of the content, re-listen and really understand what was being said, a way of deepening the understanding of the content of the DVD.
- A bibliography
The structure of the DVD-ROM in SIX STEPS
The Myth of Rationality
We start off with a first step The Myth of Rationality (step1) or the myth of rational decision-making, presenting the standard model of rational choice which comes from microeconomics and which has been criticized very strongly by Herbert Simon. And we then discuss the advantages of such a myth, the reasons why is it still believed or why we still think it is necessary, and its implications for our conception of human intelligence. So that’s the first step.
We then take up the classical premises of this model and discuss them.
The problem of information
First, there is the problem of information. Where do we get our information and is it true that one can say that we have all the information? Of course, it is not true, and there are all sorts of limitations to our information and we will go through a series of such limitations with examples.
The problem of optimizing
Secondly, there is the problem of optimizing: the idea at the heart of the classical model that we are able to choose the one best solution to any problem Now, when you think about that, in cognitive terms and in any other social terms, it becomes quite clear that we cannot optimize. So, the third step in our itinerary will be to present the many good reasons why optimizing is not a realistic idea.
And the third premise of the model, which will be the fourth step in the proposed itinerary, is about our preferences. A decision-maker is supposed to have clear, unambiguous and stable preferences that are given at the start of the decision-process. Now we all know that is not true. However, we still cling to that idea, and it is a very strong idea both descriptively and normatively. We will discuss this idea again with examples. We will show that we have to have another theory of preferences, and we will reflect upon what elements we would have to relax in order to come to a more realistic idea of preferences and what the implications of that would be.
The garbage can model of decision-making
The fifth step of our itinerary will then present a particular model: the garbage can model of decision-making (step 5) invented by James March, Johan Olsen and Michael Cohen in 1972. Why choose this particular model: because it is sort of a culminating point in the deconstruction of the idea of rational decision. Here we have a model that proposes something quite different from the normal causal reasoning that we use when we reflect upon human decision-making. And I think it is a model that is worth looking at more particularly.
The myth of rationality
In a last step, we come back to our initial thinking about the myth of rationality. Here we will talk about the traps of rationality (step 6) or about the idea that too much rationality may not be all that good. What are the traps that we might fall in if we are too rational, if we attach too high a price and too high a value to the idea of rational decision making? There may be cases where rational decision-making is not the good way to have action, or it may induce us to have a very myopic view of the future, and therefore have us do things which, had we had a longer term view, we would not have done. So, in this last step, we will try to give some examples of where rationality may lead you astray.