Decision making is a critical part of the smooth functioning, successes and failures of any organisation; however, the process of arriving at a decision must be precise, so that it will yield the best results (Quain & Seidel 2019). According to Kreitner (1966) “Decision making is a process of identifying and choosing an alternative course of action in a manner appropriate to the demand of the situation”. Unfortunately, in the process of decision making it is very difficult for managers and decision-makers to have information on all possible alternatives and or options to make the best decisions all the time, as each situation is different and or unique in its own rights (Campbell et al. 2009). Moreover, the processes employed in decision making may vary from logical to intuitive depending on the nature of the situation, heuristics, politics, ethics and social pressures in making operative, tactical, strategic and policy decisions (Simon 1956; Flin1996; Johnson-Laird 1983; Tversky & Kahneman 1974). As a result, managers tend to make decisions based on the available information (Simon 1947). Organisational leaders are constantly plagued to make different types of decisions everyday, which beg the questions; Are there too many or too little persons involved in the decision making? and are the persons involved in the decision-making qualified and competent to make the best decisions despite limitations? (Badaracco 2016). Decision making can burden many leaders since there is always the possibility that a well-crafted decision with full analysis can be futile but making no decision in itself is a decision ( Scholz 2018). Furthermore, the leadership styles employed or adapted by managers and the culture of an organisation can drastically affect how, when and why decisions are made a particular way. This paper seeks to explain the relationship between a decision-making theory and a decision-making model, focusing on the recognition-primed decision making model when making decisions in schools, its limitations and how these limitations could be mitigated.
The relationship between decision making theories and models hinges on the leadership styles employed by any organisation’s leader and information processing activities that occur during the decision making process which is determined by the leader (Surucu & Yesilada 2017; Vroom & Jago 1974). Decision making is perceived as a key process or activity in organizations and what leaders ‘do’. Johnson and Kruse (2009). Gigerenezer, 2001; Hansson, 2005; Oliveira, 2007 classified the decision making theories as rational and non-rational theories. Within the non-rational theories leaders are inclined to value intuition, imitation emotions and social norms, together with non-optimization, descriptive, search, ecological rationality (Gigerenezer, 2001). One of the models under the non-rational theory is Satisficing proposed by Herbert Simon. Simon (1956) states “Satisficing is a combination of the words “suffice” and “satisfy”; individuals do not attain the best possible solutions to problems; instead, they function within what he has called “bounded rationality” where, time, cognitive limitations, and control over the situation play a factor in decision making. Leaders operating under the non-rational theory of decision making do not follow the steps proposed by the rational theory where the alternatives are proposed and the best is selected as a solution and thorough analysis of the entire situation and options; instead the leader used their intuition, emotions and what works in making a decision on an issue at the time in question. With the help of intuition, we can very quickly discover that a problem exists, as compared with traditional analysis (Isenberg, 1991).
Leaders inspire and set the foundation for creating new cultures. According to Selart (2015) “If an organization’s culture is authoritarian and conformist, this implies that it is often tied to a bureaucracy. This generally results in limitations when it comes to making dynamic decisions. When the organization’s own culture is innovative and progressive, this normally implies that leaders are expected to be more adventurous and make decisions based on their own initiative”. Leadership is defined “as the ability to present a vision so that others want to achieve it; it requires skill in building relationships with other people and organizing resources effectively” O’Connor (1997). Profit and non-profit organisations use a variety of leadership styles, to ensure that the organisation is operating effectively and efficiently. Within any organisation decisions must be made and in some instances without delay and can have broad far-reaching consequences (Scholz 2018). Therefore, leaders must should be diplomatic in assessing current and future situations, utilizing the best decision making theories and models that is applicable in the decision making process within various situations Ejimabo (2015).
The intricacies of decision-making can determine the successes and failures of the businesses/schools. Depending on the circumstances some leaders adopt and or confine themselves to a specific type of leadership based on their experiences within their businesses and the cultural values that are maintained. According to Cowen(2018) There are various types of leadership styles are; Laissez Faire leadership- this is where the leaders are not directly involved in the decision making process, Pace-setter leadership- the leaders set high expectations and expect the tasks to be completely and right, Autocratic leadership- one person makes the decisions with little or no input from other employees, Democratic leadership- this leader encourages the input of other employees in the decision making before final decisions are made, Servant leadership-the leader is second to the employee the leader highlights the individual or the team as opposed to him or herself, Transformational leadership-leaders share their vision with their employees and want everyone to succeed and accomplish in that shared vision, Transactional leadership- is a reward and punishment type of style where employees are rewarded because of increased productivity and punished on decrease or lack of productivity and Charismatic leadership-this is where the leader possess a personality that everyone loves.
Within a school environment best practices need to be consistently executed by administrators and teachers because they have a direct effect on student achievements, failures and other important experiences in the teaching and learning process (Tucker & Stronge 2005). Every year, there is a unique batch of students entering schools who possess have different cognitive abilities, different learning styles and idiosyncrasies. With the influx of these new students present new challenges and decision making is compulsory. As a result, the management team and teachers of any educational institution should make decisions that will yield the best results for each student in any given situation as much as possible. There should be no “one size fit all approach” (Kohn 2001). The teaching and learning process is a constant work-in-progress and dynamic; with the advent of new information, modalities, technologies and challenges. Consequently, management teams and teachers should not confine and employ only the traditional/limited methods of executing their duties and decision making (Piaget 1980 & Vygotsky1962). In the school and classrooms based on the observation of the management team and teachers immediate decisions have to be made in the teaching and learning process for smooth transitioning and to prevent disequilibrium.
When working within an educational institution one must be cognizant about the students learning styles and learning abilities, cognitive levels, any physical dysfunction that may inhibit students from conducting certain activities, parents and modalities used in the teaching and learning process to ensure student achievement. In order to make decisions that are best for the institution’s students and other stakeholders the Recognition Primed Decision model should be used. Klein’s (1989) Recognition Primed Decision-making model (RPD) embraces expertise, supplemented by consideration of intuitive and analytical processing of information to come to a decision. According to Klein, Calderwood, & Clinton-Cirocco, (1986) “The recognition-primed decision (RPD) model describes how people use their experience in the form of a repertoire of patterns”. The process of the Recognition Primed-Decision making model is described by Klein (2003), the process involves a decision-maker noticing situation-generated cues, recognising patterns formed by the cues based on experience, focussing on a potential solution or ‘action script,’ and imagining potential outcomes of action implementation. The recognition primed decision making model is suitable for making decisions in schools because it is versatile and adaptive, it involves analytical processing of information to finalise a decision(Klein 1989). Additionally, in the recognition primed model teachers and school administrators need to be able to recognise ‘teachable moments’ and impromptu situations occur when decisions are made based on the skilled intuition judgements (recognition) which is a consequence experiences of the teacher, administrator or management team (Kahneman & Klein 2009). Klein’s model has four main features: situational recognition, situational understanding, mental simulation and serial evaluation. In situational recognition a problem is identified and is then classified as typical or familiar to a previous problem and is matched to a repertoire of memory patterns Klein (2008). This leads to situational understanding where the decision-maker recognises four types of information; Plausible goals relate to specific achievable outcomes ,Relevant cues is the recognition of vital information available and what it represents. Mental stimulation alerts the decision maker to important dynamics and thereby modify the situation assessment (Klein, 2008). Serial evaluation is where the adequacy of the options are tested to identify weaknesses and create ways of how to mitigate these issues Klein &Crandall (1990) . Only if a problem is detected with the selection then another option will be considered; often the first choice is the only one considered. This enables rapid decision making in times of need.
The limitations of Recognition Primed Model in decision making are; Employees with little or no experience will encounter challenges in making decision because they do not have a knowledge as to what they are required to do, rendering employees incompetent in that regard. This lack of experience may inhibit their ability to effectively identify the most efficient course of action in given situations to solve its problem or make a decision. Furthermore, this lack of experience will also prevent employees thoroughly evaluating options for their flaws and may not know what is the best decision for a particular situation (Klein (1989). There will be no form of a repertoire of patterns primary causal factors operating in the situation. (Klein, Calderwood, & Clinton-Cirocco, 1986).
Within the recognition primed decision making model stressful situations may interrupt the decision maker from making optimal decisions. Stress and stressful situations can cause a degeneration the mental stimulation process through misinterpretation of information making it dysfunctional. As a result, the process of recognition primed decision making model will be disrupted (Klein &Crandall 1996)
There will be an increase possibility of errors if decision makers do not have adequate experience in the given fields. These errors could be a consequence of lack of experience, failure to anticipate negative consequences of actions, lack of critical information to be thorough in the decision making process (Klein & Crandall 1996)
These limitations of the Recognition-Primed Decision can be mitigated by employing personnel who has the same or similar experience in making decisions in schools so that decision makers can recognise salient features of a problem and make a decision that is the same or similar because they have been exposed to the same or similar circumstances and conditions which results experiences. In order to do this personnel should train and practice together to establish relationships and a good foundation in making decisions surrounding the same issues to increase the possibility of personnel generating the same or similar decisions.
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