Decision Making & Decision Making Models

Decision making is simply the thought process of selecting a logical choice from available options. Decision making in an organization involves the process of taking action by some officials or body to approve, modify or reject a preferred position on issue or group of issues.Decision making is the selection of course of action among alternatives.

Drucker (1955), described decision making as a judgment and choice between alternatives and also observes that decision making is a process of evaluating alternatives related to a goal at which expectation of the decision taker with regards to particular course of action impels him to make a selection or commitment towards which he will direct his intellect and energies for the purpose of attaining his objectives.

For effective decision making, a manager or the management must be able to forecast the outcome of each option as well, and based on all these, determine which option is the best for that particular situation.


Organizational Decision: this type of decision is taken to further the interest of an organization. It is the co-operative decision of an organization. Bureaucratically, a manager or an administrator can make a decision, which can be delegated to other workers of the organization.

Programmed Decision: this type of decision making is applied to routine problem, routine problems are problems that arise on day to day basis, which could be addressed by standard response. These responses give solutions that have already been determined by previous experience as suitable to the problem in question.  

For instance, a specified process through which somebody can be employed by Nigeria Civil Service Commission, like applying and participating in an interview or examination. Programmed decision is the routine and repetitive decision with established precedence.

Non Programmed Decision: this type of decision making is obtained when there is new and unusual problem. When a problem is unusual, it requires a manager or an administrator to use his discretion to handle and manage such crisis. Non-programmed decisions are usually made by upper level managers.

Personal Decision: this is the type of decision a manager makes without any consultation. In the course of discharging their duties, mangers can make decision in their own interest. It is the personal choice of an individual.

Fundamental or Critical Decision: these are the type of decisions that requires executive judgement.

Routine Decision: this is the regular and patterned decision that provides guide for daily activities and little thought as they are made repeatedly.

Basic Decision: these are major decisions like deciding the location an industry or the type of service that an organization should go.

Tactical Decision: these are decisions that relate to economic use of resources.

Strategic Decision: these are the type of decisions that are usually made by the management and include decisions about basic objectives and operations of an organization.

Types of Decision Making Models

In a bid to have a clearer understanding of how a decision should be taken in an organization, scholars have identified some models which are: rational comprehensive model, incremental model, mixed scanning and the satisfying model.

The Rational Comprehensive Model: this model involves taking decision based on logical or rigorous analysis of problems, the alternative lines of actions to it solution and the making of choice among them. Rational comprehensive model is perhaps the most widely accepted decision making process.

This is as a result of its emphasis on reasoning, whereby decision makers are faced with a wide world of open system of variables in which all alternatives and consequences must be surveyed with the aim of attaining the most efficient result of maximum net value.

This model seek to enable public administrators to make a rational decision in the most efficient, economic and effective manner. Therefore, there are some steps which an administrator considers before taking an effective decision. These steps include:

  • Recognizing and clarifying the problem.
  • Gathering all the possible facts for the actualization of the goals.
  • Outlining and putting each option to a test by asking of its legality.
  • Selecting of the best possible solution for the problem.

The Incremental Model: this involves making small or incremental changes from existing decisions. In this context, past decision provides rough guide for present decisions.

This model was propounded by Charles Lindblon (1959) to critique the rational comprehensive model with a central thesis on administrative decision making, which he said involves a continuation of past policies with a least possible modification to suit the changing circumstances.

Lindblom contends that incrementalism represents the typical decision making process in pluralistic societies. He argue that people are essentially pragmatic, seeking not always the single best ways to deal with a problem but more modestly, an approach that avoids many of the problems of the rational comprehensive model, and at the same time more descriptive of the way in which public officials actually make decisions.

Mixed Scanning Model: Amitai Etzioni (1967) propounded this model. This model combines the use of incrementalism and rationalism. He argues that, it will help public administrators to develop a synthesis through which the advantages of each of the rational and incremental models can be maximized.

Etzioni (1967) claims that the mixed scanning strategy was not only to describe how decisions are made but what effective strategy to adopt in policy decision making by decision makers. He further argues that, this approach allows decision makers to utilize both the rational comprehensive and incremental models in different situations.

Mixed scanning model seeks to provide an answer to the major weaknesses of incrementalism and comprehensive rational model of decision making.

The Satisfying Model: satisfying as used in this model means choosing the satisfactory rather than the optimal decision making alternative. Herbert Simon et al (1957), in an analysis concluded that, “Most human decision making whether individual or organizational is concerned with the discovery and selection of satisfying alternatives.

To arrive at a decision that is satisfactory, the administrator does not examine every possible choice, taking into account time and resources constraints. Herbert went further to explain that decision makers operate within certain boundaries determined by the skills, habits and reflexes and the extent of his knowledge and information.

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