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Text 9. Decision Making in Business and Public Administration

Carrying out management functions a manager is continually making decisions. However, whether small or solid, short or long-term, studied or impulsive, decision-making involves four major elements - problem definition, information search, choice and evaluation. The first step in defininga problem is recognizing that it exists. Selecting a problem for attention and putting it on the agenda are the most important parts of this stage.

If the problem really exists the next step is to learn more about it. Thus, information search can be defined as the nature of decision-making. Getting information has always been central to public administration, as government institutions are usually primary sponsors of scientific and humanitarian researches.

After the problem is defined and the information is examined, the time for taking the right choice comes. Weighing options and selecting are the most visible decision-making processes. Decisions do not end with taking choices. Decision-making involves evaluating effects and actions. Whether formal or informal, evaluation is another form of information gathered after the choice.

In fact there exist two main categories of models for decision-making - rational and non-rational. Rational decisions are choices based on judgment of performance and outcomes. They are not always perfect and do not eliminate the possibility of failure. In non-rational models choices do not result from deliberate balance of pros and cons. Most governmental decisions are within these models as the time required to take a decision is too sort and the finances are too thin to provide long researchers.

As for decision-making in public administration, it is a debated subject. Different roles of administrators add to the difficulty of understanding the problem. In most countries public administrators define their role in terms of implementing the laws and policies conducted by the Government. An elite also makes decisions. Thus, it can include persons inside or outside government. Technocrats make decisions based on some concept of utility. Complications grow when formal structures and informal channels for making decisions interact. Besides, some civil servants think that decision making is related to charismatic leaders or political and special organisations. They often view their work from the position of dealing with files or carrying out assigned tasks and enforcing rules. They just forget that all administrators are decision makers to varying extends and for different levels of issues.

Answer the questions:

1. What is a manager doing carrying out his management functions?

2. What elements of decision-making can you name?

3. What step is the first in decision-making?

4. What can be defined as the nature of decision-making?

5. When does the time for taking the right choice come?

6. What forms of decision-making do you know?

7. What principal are rational decisions based on?

8. What is the difference between rational and non-rational decisions?

9. Where are non-rational models usually applied?

10.How do public administrators often define their roles?


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