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Situated Attention, Loose and Tight Coupling, and the Garbage Can Model

The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty

ISBN: 978-1-78052-712-3, eISBN: 978-1-78052-713-0

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 26 October 2012

Abstract

This chapter first examines the role of attention in the garbage can model of decision making and compares it both to prior approaches in the Carnegie School tradition and the attention-based view of the firm. Both the garbage can model and the attention-based view rely on the same assumption, one that is rarely recognized nor understood – that organizational decision making is characterized by situated attention, where organizational participants vary across time and place in what they attend to. In the garbage can model, decision opportunities are the temporal contexts for situated attention; in the attention-based view, attention is situated in both time and place within the organization's communication channels. In the garbage can, situated attention is also shaped by the ecology of problems and opportunities competing for attention. The final part examines the determinants and consequences of tight versus loose coupling of channels in organizations and its effects on participants’ situated attention. Attention structures external to channels and the architecture of channel structures shape the degree of coupling found in organizations. In viewing coupling as a variable, the chapter suggests that a modified garbage can model, combined with an increased focus on situated attention, provides the foundations for a more general theory of nonroutine decision making.

Citation

Ocasio, W. (2012), "Situated Attention, Loose and Tight Coupling, and the Garbage Can Model", Lomi, A. and Harrison, J.R. (Ed.) The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 36), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 293-317. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X(2012)0000036014

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited