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Herbert A. Simon on making decisions: enduring insights and bounded rationality

Behrooz Kalantari (Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia, USA)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Publication date: 28 September 2010



The paper aims to explore the life and contributions of one of the most influential management scholars (Herbert A. Simon), who is known as the founder and contributor to many scientific fields. Simon's interdisciplinary approach in conducting his research in management has made him a significant figure in many disciplines.


The paper is of a qualitative nature, and information is collected from the books and articles that are written by Simon as well as those who have been familiar with his work. This paper concentrates on Simon's contribution to the decision‐making theory and, more specifically, his insights into the process of decision making in real world situations. It explores the tenets of the classical and neoclassical approach to decision making and argues that because of Simon's work, attention was diverted from concentration on studying the organizational structure to the behavior of the decision makers during the process of making decisions. This new orientation brought more attention to the behavioral approach in studying decision making in organizations. Special attention is given to Simon's “bounded rationality” model and its relation to the process of decision making. This paper also deals with Simon's view on the role of intuition in decision making and explores the practicality of using his model in the real world.


Simon opened up a new world of scientific inquiry that its main focus is on the development of the most effective and realistic model for the decision makers to predict future outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

The paper only concentrates on the core contribution of Herbert Simon's work on the decision‐making process. It does not indulge itself in Simon's related work in other disciplines such as computer science and artificial intelligence. In addition, this paper does not deal with the new developments in the theories of decision making. Future research could concentrate on the new discoveries concerning the ability of humans to construct thinking machines in order to improve productivity in organizations.


The paper examines the productive life of Herbert Simon and develops a realistic portrait of his core contributions to humanity (decision making). It involves the reader with the intricacies of the decision making process as it is examined and studied by Simon.



Kalantari, B. (2010), "Herbert A. Simon on making decisions: enduring insights and bounded rationality", Journal of Management History, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 509-520.



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