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Decisions

The Complexities of Individual and Organizational Decision-Making

Karin Brunsson and Nils Brunsson

Many, although far from all, human actions are preceded by decisions. Decisions are needed when action is not routinized or when there are no clear institutionalized rules for how to act. Decision-making can follow four types of logics – the logics of consequences, of appropriateness, of imitation and of experimentation. An extreme form of the logic of consequences is the model of rational decision-making according to which decision makers shall be able to predict and weigh their future preference and all relevant action options and their consequences. But these expectations are almost impossible to meet. In contemporary society the logic of consequences and especially its rational variant have a higher status than the other logics. Whichever logic used before the action, decision makers are expected to justify their decisions by using the logic of consequences in a relatively rational version.

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Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson

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Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson

All over the world, the media report daily on the debates and decisions in organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Union (EU), and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and the meanings of their acronyms and abbreviations are familiar to newspaper readers around the planet. A number of similar organizations are less generally known: the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Universal Postal Union (UPU), and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), for example. There are yet other organizations known by few people outside their own memberships: the Confederation of International Soft Drinks Associations (CISDA), the International Egg Commission (IEC), and the International Cremation Federation (ICF), for instance.

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Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson