what are some factors that affect decision making?
Some of the decision making is influenced by beliefs and rationality of logical thinking.
What is logic?
Now that different approaches to decision making have been considered it is possible to extract a number of linked factors that influence decisions:
The decision makers
The decision situation
Thinking in terms of a problem or an opportunity
People affected by the decision
Decision support - theories, tools and techniques.
Let us briefly consider each of these factors in turn.
Different people approach decision making in different ways. Individuals are unique in terms of their personalities, abilities, beliefs and values. They also each have traditions of understanding out of which they think and act. Even when the same data is apparently available to all, people will interpret and assimilate the data in different ways and at different speeds.
Each individual develops personal beliefs and values, including those relating to their environment, through different life experiences, and hence brings a different perspective to a decision situation. Some people will also have more at stake in a decision outcome than others. There are therefore many issues around who is involved in decision-making processes and how they participate.
The garbage-can approach to decision making showed that the decision situation is often messy and complex and that apparently unrelated events can affect decision outcomes, depending on what else is going on at the time the decision is taken.
Elements of change, risk and uncertainty are common in decision situations and recognising and making sense of these elements are two of the main challenges that decision makers face.
When you have started to consider an issue and are approaching a decision, do you think in terms of opportunities, problems or both?
A potential problem can often be turned around by thinking about it differently. This is not to suggest that all problems can be turned into opportunities. One person’s problem may well be another’s opportunity, which will not always help the person with the problem. But it is worth remembering that how a decision-making situation is thought of can affect what actions are taken, and that there might well be opportunities in what appears to be a problem situation.
The criteria that are established and used to evaluate alternative courses of action in decision making will certainly affect the outcome of a decision. Different criteria will be appropriate in different situations but are often needed both to help make a decision and to make apparent the basis on which it is made.
In group decision making, exploring and deciding on criteria is one way of developing a shared understanding of a situation. Different decision makers with different beliefs and values are likely to identify different criteria and give a different weighting to them.
A decision is made at a particular time in a particular set of circumstances. The decision situation can change very rapidly so what appeared to be a rational decision at one time might later appear to be anything but that.
One aspect of the time dimension that is particularly apparent in the ‘garbage-can’ decision-making approach is that the outcome of a decision may be affected by concurrent, but otherwise only marginally related, events.
Time is also a factor that can affect the nature of people’s participation in decision making. Skills are needed to be able to judge the urgency of decision-making processes, who needs to be involved in which stages of decision making within a particular time and resource frame and to what extent timing can be negotiated and with whom.
There are issues of power to take into account in considering the nature of the influence that people affected by a decision can have.
People who are likely to be affected by a decision can have considerable direct or indirect influence on the outcome of a decision. There are many ways in which this can happen. People affected might be ‘shareholders’ or ‘stakeholders’. Shareholders’ interests are economic, whereas stakeholders’ interests in the decision are much broader than economic.
Many theories, tools and techniques have been developed to support and explain decision making, for example in medical, legal and organisational contexts. They may offer support to decision-making processes, depending on how they are used.
Power relations, the role of different stakeholders and expertise in decision making and use of models for decision support must be taken into consideration. A great deal of literature also exists on areas such as decision theory and behavioural research on how decisions are made.
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