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Framing Decisions: Decision-Making that Accounts for Irrationality, People and Constraints

ISBN: 978-1-118-01489-9
304 pages
November 2012, Jossey-Bass
Framing Decisions: Decision-Making that Accounts for Irrationality, People and Constraints (1118014898) cover image


The economic crisis of 2008–2009 was a transformational event: it demonstrated that smart people aren't as smart as they and the public think. The crisis arose because a lot of highly educated people in high-impact positions— political power brokers, business leaders, and large segments of the general public—made a lot of bad decisions despite unprecedented access to data, highly sophisticated decision support systems, methodological advances in the decision sciences, and guidance from highly experienced experts. How could we get things so wrong? The answer, says J. Davidson Frame in Framing Decisions: Decision Making That Accounts for Irrationality, People, and Constraints, is that traditional processes do not account for the three critical immeasurable elements highlighted in the book's subtitle— irrationality, people, and constraints.

Frame argues that decision-makers need to move beyond their single-minded focus on rational and optimal solutions as preached by the traditional paradigm. They must accommodate a decision's social space and address the realities of dissimulation, incompetence, legacy, greed, peer pressure, and conflict. In the final analysis, when making decisions of consequence, they should focus on people – both as individuals and in groups.

Framing Decisions offers a new approach to decision making that gets decision-makers to put people and social context at the heart of the decision process. It offers guidance on how to make decisions in a real world filled with real people seeking real solutions to their problems.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures xi

Preface xiii

1 An Evolving Decision-Making Paradigm 1

The Traditional Paradigm 3

The Real World 5

Rethinking Decision Making 8

The Cognitive Challenge 15

Adjusting to the New Paradigm 16

Conclusion: It Isn’t Easy Getting It Right 18

2 Decisions and Decision Making 21

Different Perspectives on Decision Making 25

Rational, Irrational, Nonrational Decisions 38

Dealing with Unknowns 42

3 The Social Context of Decision Making 47

The Social Context 49

The Social Space of Decision Making 51

Allison’s Multiple Perspectives on Decision Making 52

The Link Between Stakeholder and Decision-Maker 55

The Implementation Challenge 56

Accommodating External Forces 57

Conclusion 58

4 The Organizational Dimension 61

Organizational Structure 62

Organizational Process 69

People in Organizations 71

Organizational Culture 72

Conclusion 85

5 The Moral Dimension 87

Broad Categories of Moral Failings 89

Moral Hazard 101

Principal-Agent Dilemma 107

Morality, Ethics, and Legality: They Are Diff erent 109

Last Word 111

6 People as Decision-Makers 115

Factors That Affect How Individuals Make Decisions 116

A Unique Perspective on Personality and Decision Making: Elliott Jaques, Human Capability, and Time Span of Discretion 135

Conclusion 138

7 The Wisdom–and Foolishness–of Crowds 141

Individual Versus Group Decision-Participation Spectrum 141

Making Decisions in Groups 148

Degrees of Consensus 150

Defining Consensus 150

Reaching a Decision 159

The Wisdom and Foolishness of Crowds 162

Honeybee Decision Making 173

8 The Biology of Decision Making 177

Brain Basics 178

The Lazy Brain 179

Visual Illusions: What You See Isn’t What You Get 186

Examples of Visual Illusions 189

Brain Deception Beyond Visual Illusions 197

The Maturing Brain 200

Conclusion 207

9 Toward an Empirically Rooted Understanding of Decision Making 211

In the Beginning: Toward an Empirical View 213

Evidence of Unconscious Deliberation in Decision Making: Three Empirical Approaches 214

The Contribution of Empirical Research: Where Do We Stand? 228

Empirical Research on Decision Making in the Neurosciences 232

The Contribution of Neuropsychology Research: Where Do We Stand? 241

The Need for Research on Decisions of Consequence 242

10 Seven Lessons 247

Seven Lessons for Highly Effective Decision-Makers 248

Last Word 258

References 261

Acknowledgments 267

The Author 269

Index 271

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Author Information

J. DAVIDSON FRAME is academic dean and cofounder of the University of Management and Technology (UMT) in Arlington, Virginia, one of the first fully online degree-conferring universities in the United States. Prior to joining the UMT faculty, he served as chairman of the Department of Management Science at George Washington University. Frame is the author of four prior books with Jossey-Bass, including the business bestseller Managing Projects in Organizations, Third Edition. He is a fellow of the Project Management Institute (PMI), where he received PMI's Outstanding Contribution Award and was named PMI's Person of the Year.

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