The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of “common sense” and to distinguish it from uncommon sense as it applies to managerial decision‐making under conditions of task uncertainty. The paper enunciates the definition of common sense decision‐making and develops the concept of “uncommon” sense making. A typology of common sense is put forth, and a case study is used to illustrate it in practice.
This is a conceptually developmental paper, which explores and develops the concept of uncommon sense through literature review and typology development. A mechanistic, or internally driven, decision approach is compared with an organic, externally driven one, and the question of how common sense is related to these approaches in varying task uncertainty conditions is explored. A short case study is used as an illustration of the practical managerial implications under low task certainty conditions.
The concepts of MCS (common sense) and MUS (uncommon sense) are established, as well as O and M errors. It is suggested that within a mechanistic approach MCS is most appropriate in conditions of high task certainty. Within an organic approach MUS is most appropriate in conditions of low task certainty. An O error occurs when a mechanistic approach is taken, using common sense, under low task certainty. Lack of appropriate resources deems such an approach unsuitable. An M error occurs when a more risky organic approach (MUS) is taken when resources exist to make a common sense decision.
Increasing globalization, work ambiguity, and task complexity, introduce a need for greater managerial adaptability and speed. MUS may therefore play an increasingly greater role in organizational decision‐making as managers seek answers to questions generated by new and unique situations where existing decision rules may not apply.
The theoretical framework offered in this paper looks at the increasingly common situations in which “thinking outside the box” is essential for sound decision making. It suggests a taxonomy that allows for exploration as well as application of “uncommon sense”‐based theory in situations that require such innovative thinking. It takes a significant step in the theoretical and practical understanding of the very relevant issues of inspiration, adventure and creativity in managerial decision making today.
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