Abstract of Judgement & Decision Making Topics

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Reading 1.3 (Jackall, R. (1988)) : Looking Up and Looking Around

In every corporation the crux of a manager’s charisma is his decision making prowess. Though there is an abundance of scientific theories and myths related to decision making, generally decisions are made in a highly rationalized context.

A manager would prefer taking decisions that are based on well-formulated and generally agreed upon strategies rather than evaluating all the possible solutions to the problem in hand and then taking a well reasoned decision. In contrast, managers are highly uncomfortable when faced with situations in which there are no specific procedures. Managers vouch for their own safety, safety in terms of reputation and therefore tend to look around and see what others opinions are, the perspective of their superiors. In situations where their reputation is at stake, or huge sums of money involved, or even the company’s goodwill is at stake managers tend to hesitate and wait for an opinion not due to lack of experience but due to fear of failure.

Another aspect why managers tend to look around is the accusation or blame time after a problem occurs because there is no means to track down responsibility. As a result of bureaucratic structure higher authorities can easily sneak out of such situations leaving the subordinates hung out to dry.

A negative aspect in an organization would be milking a plant which is generally performed by a top level authority in order to maximize gains. The negative aspect in this is of course the organisation bears the brunt of it, moreover at the end of it all, the person assigned the charge of the milked plant eventually becomes the scapegoat.

Another aspect is that if focus remains on short term profit it may not be the key to lasting achievements though it may be profitable for a short duration. Likewise individuals look out for their own interests instead of the organisations when there are immediate personal benefits.


In my experience this occasion has occurred a number of times when my manager tends to avoid the risky or rather sticky situations. As a newly appointed sales engineer in a trading firm my manager used to pass on a number of sales quotations to me for processing and finalizing the deal. Since I was fresh to the field of sales I didn’t realize that he was forwarding me these sales orders just because those orders were from clients who weren’t credible enough. Though I managed to get a couple of orders, two of the orders went kaput in terms of payment for which I was held responsible. My manager washed his hands of me accusing me with not consulting him before I plunged to seal the deal. Though on the other profitable orders he too had a take on the credit but the blame only fell on me. Reading 4.3 (Wildavsky, A., and Dake, K.(1990)): Theories of Risk Perception: Who Fears What and Why?

This article mainly focuses on the outlook of different kinds of people, outlook such as the perception of risk of different products and practices, the diverse effect of a particular practice or event on these different groups, the intensity of the effect on these groups and the varying concerns on an individual basis to a diverse range of risks so as to understand the patterns of risk perception.

Fundamentally an individual perceives a hazard as a risk with greater anxiety if his wellbeing is likely to be in danger. If the hazard doesn’t seem to affect him or his beliefs in any way it wouldn’t be of any concern to him though it might be of ample concern to someone else who will be directly affected.

By classifying people on the basis of social relations such as hierarchical, egalitarian and individualist, along with the cultural biases that support them, turned out to be the best way to account for the perception of risk. It was found that people who support egalitarianism would be more inclined to risk taking individually but as a social group would be more...
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