“ the Irrationality of Actions and Action Rationality: Decisions, Ideologies and Organizational Actions”

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“ The irrationality of actions and action rationality: decisions, ideologies and organizational actions”

By N. Brunsson

Summary of the article

Rational decision-making procedures fulfil the function of choice, they lead to the selection of action alternatives. However, organizations face two problems: 1) to choose the right thing to do; 2) to get the right thing done. There are two main explanations of irrationality: psychological one argues that certain types of irrationality are inherent characteristics of human beings and these ones are difficult to be changed by training (Goldberg, 1968); another way to explain it is by pointing out some practical restrictions: in realistic decision situations, values, alternatives and predictions interact, so decision makers have incomplete information or they have more information than human beings can grasp. According to the article, there are two kinds of rationality, corresponding to these two problems. 1) Decision rationality. Decision-making perspective conceives human behaviour as resulting from decisions make by individuals, group or organizations . Decision is a conscious choice between at least two alternative actions. 2) Action rationality. Action perspective will be more fruitful for understanding large areas of organizational behaviour. This perspective explains behaviour within attempts to change and differences in abilities to achieve changes. The actions perspective make important to observe that there are both decisions without actions and actions without decisions. The two kinds of rationality are difficult to pursue simultaneously because rational decision-making procedures are irrational from an action perspective. For decisions to initiate actions, they must have three important aspects: 1. cognitive (expectation: cognitive activities become more important where the actors expect more information to be beneficial); 2. motivation (according to Zander, 1969, motivation is less important where...
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