Sample Material of Public Administration Study Kit (Paper -
Chapter III - Administrative Behaviour: Process and
techniques of decision-making
WHAT IS DECISION MAKING?
Decision making can be defined as the selection based on some
criteria of one behaviour alternative from two or more possible alternatives.
Decision making two or more alternative there is no decision to be made. To
decide means to cut off or, in practical content, to come to a conclusion.
In “The Function of the Executive”; Branard gave a
comprehensive analytical treatment of decision making and noted: “The process of
decision ……. Are largely techniques for narrowing choice.” In the words of
Weihrich & Koontz, “Decision making is the selection of a source of action from
among alternatives; it is the core of planning.” According to Haynes and Massie,
“Decision making is a process of selection from a set of alternative courses of
action which is thought to fulfill the objective of the decision problem more
satisfactorily than other”. On the basis of the above description, the following
features of decision making can be identified:
- Decision making is a goal-oriented process.
- Decision making implies a set of alternatives.
- Decision making is a dynamic process.
- Decision making is always related to the environment. An executive may
take one decision in a particular set of circumstances and another in a
different set of circumstances.
- Decision making is a continuous or on-going process.
- Decision making is an intellectual or rational process.
Types of Decisions
Decisions can be classified in a number of ways as shown below:
1.Organizational and Personal Decisions:
organizational decisions are made to advance the interests of the organisations.
Personal decisions are made by an executive as an individual and not as a part
of an organisation. An executive who changes jobs or organisations is making a
2.Individual and Group Decisions: When a decision is
taken by an individual in the organisation, it is known as individual decision.
Group decisions are those taken by a group of persons constituted for this
purpose. Group decision making generally results in more realistic and well
balanced decision and encourages participative decision making.
3. Routine and Strategic Decisions: Routine decisions
are made respectively following certain established rules, procedures and
policies. Strategic or basic decision, on the other hand, are more important and
are generally taken by the top management of organisations. They relate to
policy matters and so required a thorough fact finding and analysis of the
4. Programmed and Non-programmed Decisions: Programmed
decisions are concerned with relatively routine and repetitive problems.
Information on these problems is already available and can be processed in a
pre- lanned manner. Such decisions have short-term impact and are relatively
Non-programmed decisions deal with unique or unusual
problems. Such novel or non-repetitive problems cannot be tackled in a
predetermined manner. There are not cut-and-dried solutions or ready made
answers for such problems. Therefore, a high degree of executive judgment and
deliberation is required to solve them
5.Policy and Operative Decisions: Policy decision are of vital
importance and are taken by the top management. They effect the entire
organisation. But operating decisions are taken by the lower management in order
to put into action the policy decisions.
Decision Making Process
A decision is generally not take in isolation as it is
affected by previous behaviour as well as by consequences anticipated in the
future. It is therefore necessary to understand decision making as process as
the question of final selection of choice from alternatives should not result in
false emphasis ignoring the lengthy complex process which precedes that final
choice. The decision making process can be divided into the following – distinct
1. Defining the problem: The decision making process begins with the
recognition of a problem that requires a decision.
2.Analyzing the problem and Gathering Information: The analysis of a
problem involves classifying the problem. Classification is necessary in order
to know who should take the decision and who should be consulted in making it.
3. Developing Alternative Solutions: Developing
alternative solutions to the problem is a very important step in the decision
making process. There is rarely a problem for which alternative solutions helps
to make the best decision, after a careful evaluation of the most desirable
courses of action in the situation.
4.Selection the Best Solution: In order to choose the
best alternative, one will have to evaluate the available alternatives. There
are various ways to evaluate alternatives. The most common method is through
intuition i.e., choosing a solution that seems to be a good idea at that time.
There is an inherent danger in this process because an executive’s intuition
may be wrong on certain occasions. A second way to choose the best alternative
is to weight the consequences of one against those of the other.
5.Converting the decision in to effective action:
After a solution has been selected, applying the above criteria, steps must be
taken to translate it into effective action. The decision should be presented to
the people who are to take part in its execution, in a language they can
Herbert Simon and Decision Making Proces
The main contribution of Simon relates to the analysis of
organizational behaviour from the standpoint of ‘decision making’, particularly
its non-rational character. The greet administrative theorist believes that
systems analysis is leading to the there hold of revolution in management
decision making. According to his thesis, administrative theory should be based
primarily around the question of choice and decision making as the core of
Simon is highly critical of the principles of administration
formulated by Lyndall F. Urwich and Luther Gullick, particularly those relating
to unity of command, span of control, line and staff, hierarchy and
departmentalization by functions. He ridicules these principles as ‘proverbs’
He opines that for each of the classical principles, there is
an opposite and equally valid principle. Herbert Simon is associated with the
social systems school and visualizes organizational problem in its total and
psychological context. According to Simon, there are three sequential steps in
the overall process of making a decision. There are:
(a) The Intelligence Activity: It means finding occasions calling for
(b) The Design Activity: It means investing, developing and analyzing
possible courses of action.
(c) The Choice Activity: It refers to selecting a particular courses
of action from those available.