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Crisis decision-making: the overlap between intuitive and analytical strategies

Justin Okoli (Faculty of Business and Law, School of Strategy and Leadership, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)
John Watt (Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management, Middlesex University, London, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 8 February 2018

Issue publication date: 3 May 2018




The purpose of this paper is to draw on the naturalistic decision making and cognitive science literature to examine how experienced crisis managers utilize the intuitive and analytical strategies when managing complex incidents. A cognitive model that describes the interplay between strategies is presented and discussed, and the specific role that intuition plays in analytical decision making is addressed.


Designed as a conceptual paper, the extant literature is reviewed to advance discussions on the theme of intuitive and analytical decision making in the naturalistic environment. A new model of expert intuition – the information filtering and intuitive decision model – is presented and evaluated against existing cognitive models from the wider literature.


The paper suggests that experts’ ability to make intuitive decisions is strongly hinged on their information processing skills that allow irrelevant cues to be sifted out while the relevant cues are retained. The paper further revealed that experts generally employ the intuitive mode as their default strategy, drawing on the analytical mode only as conditions warrant.


Prior research has shown that experts often make important task decisions using intuitive or analytical strategies or by combining both, but the sequence these should typically follow is still unresolved. Findings from the intuition model reveal that although intuition often precedes analytical thinking in almost all cases, both strategies exist to offer significant values to decision makers if the basis of their application is well understood.



Okoli, J. and Watt, J. (2018), "Crisis decision-making: the overlap between intuitive and analytical strategies", Management Decision, Vol. 56 No. 5, pp. 1122-1134.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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