Edited by Marta Sinclair
Chapter 11: Intuition in Crisis Management: The Secret Weapon of Successful Decision Makers?
Bjørn T. Bakken and Thorvald Haerem What do military commanders, police commissioners, fire marshals, and rescue team leaders have in common? They are frequently engaged in crisis management, that is, they make life-and-death decisions in situations characterized by time pressure, high risk, and ambiguous or lacking information (Sayegha et al., 2004). Superior decision-making skills are argued to be the cornerstone for military operations and unit effectiveness (Hidayat et al., 2009). Consequentially, researchers, educators and practitioners alike have long been in search of the mechanisms behind superior decision-making performance in crisis management. One important characteristic of successful decision making in crises is the use of intuition (Klein, 1998, 2003). The purpose of this chapter is to examine the role of intuition in crisis management decision making, and outline some of the preconditions for its effective use, especially in a military setting. We define intuition as ‘[A]ffectively charged judgments that arise through rapid, nonconscious, and holistic associations’ (Dane & Pratt, 2007: 33). The contrast to intuition is analysis, which is associated with the rational system described by Epstein et al. (1996) as intentional, primarily conscious and verbal, and relatively affect-free. Few empirical studies, but several theoretical works (e.g., Sinclair & Ashkanasy, 2005) have highlighted the importance of intuition for managerial decision making in general. There is a growing interest in intuition (e.g., Gigerenzer, 2000; Hogarth, 2001) and in particular the role of experience-based intuition (e.g., Kahneman & Klein, 2009; Salas et al., 2010). Many models of military decision making, however, either omit or...
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