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Decisions

The Complexities of Individual and Organizational Decision-Making

Karin Brunsson and Nils Brunsson

Decisions and the complexity of decision-making are central topics in several social science disciplines, including those of social psychology, political science and the study of organizations. This book draws on insights from all of these disciplines and provides a concise overview of some of the most intriguing and salient observations and arguments in the research about decision-making. The book first deals with basic decision making logics and applies them to both individual and organizational decision making. The book then deals with consequences of decisions and the complications of making decisions in a political context, where many individuals and organizations are involved.
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After the tsunami

The Complexities of Individual and Organizational Decision-Making

Karin Brunsson and Nils Brunsson

Extract

disaster in Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004 – Boxing Day.

We allow the decisions and actions that occurred shortly after the tsunami to illustrate many of the arguments we have raised in this book. We use information and assessments found in the main report from the Disaster Committee of 2005 (SOU 2005:104) and concentrate, as the Committee did, on the decisions and actions of Swedish authorities. We begin by reproducing a conclusion from the Committee’s afterword (p. 349):

The tsunami was a natural disaster. It was beyond human power to prevent. Its magnitude, where it would strike and when it would occur could not be controlled. There is no one to blame.

Although no one was to be held responsible for the tsunami, the Swedish Committee argued that Prime Minister Göran Persson had overall responsibility for shortcomings in the ability of the government offices to manage and analyse information that the Committee had found – and to act upon it.

There were no extenuating circumstances. When the tsunami disaster occurred, Göran Persson had been prime minister for more than eight years. The matter of a national disaster management organization had been raised several times during his tenure, but the issue had been left up to the government to decide.

The Committee’s criticism may be interpreted to mean that the responsibility of decision makers grows with time. The longer someone has had the role of decision maker, the greater...

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