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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2022

Kailash Awati and Natalia Nikolova

Managers are increasingly presented with complex, ambiguous decision problems that affect multiple stakeholder groups. Such problems cannot be tackled solely by classical…

1167

Abstract

Purpose

Managers are increasingly presented with complex, ambiguous decision problems that affect multiple stakeholder groups. Such problems cannot be tackled solely by classical approaches that prescribe rational methods to weigh evidence and select an optimal course of action. Yet most courses on decision making still focus on these methods. This paper draws attention to the complementary nature of rational decision making and sensemaking techniques in management decision making, and describes a practical pedagogy that demonstrates how the two can be integrated into management curricula.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on an in-depth review of relevant research, the authors propose a conceptual model that highlights the complementary nature of rational and sensemaking methods for making decisions relating to complex and ambiguous problems. They then describe a course on decision making as an illustration of how the model can inform decision making pedagogy.

Findings

Decision makers need to think of their decision problems in terms of two distinct types of uncertainty: those for which uncertainty can be quantified and those for which it cannot. When faced with the latter, decisions are best made by working with relevant stakeholders to collectively frame the problem using practical sensemaking tools prior to applying rational decision making techniques to address it. Decision making under ambiguity is an iterative, social process requiring a combination of rational decision making methods and sensemaking techniques.

Practical implications

The paper seeks to increase awareness about the complementary nature of sensemaking and rational decision making. It emphasizes the need to integrate the two in management curricula and provides details on how this can be done via an example of a course implemented at an Australian Business School. The techniques described will also be of interest to practitioners.

Originality/value

The paper describes a practical pedagogy that blends rational decision making and collective sensemaking techniques in a way that fosters managers’ decision making skills in contexts characterized by ambiguity.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 60 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 February 2009

Natalia Nikolova and Timothy M. Devinney

The aim of this paper is to provide a clearer picture of the nature of power imbalance in client‐consultant teams, which has negative consequences for the development and…

2173

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to provide a clearer picture of the nature of power imbalance in client‐consultant teams, which has negative consequences for the development and implementation of consultants' recommendations, and to outline ways how to avoid such an imbalance in the first instance.

Design/methodology/approach

This is an empirical paper based on in‐depth semi‐structured interviews with clients and consultants from the strategic consulting sector in Australia.

Findings

Taking a differentiated look at the roles and responsibilities of members of client‐consultant teams, the authors propose that power within client‐consultant teams is multidimensional and the outcome of the interplay of its different forms is not predictable. It is further argued that a power balance is crucial for achieving better results from consulting projects.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are not generalizable, due to the small sample and the focus on strategic consulting. The results encourage further research in different types of consulting projects as well as studies based on observation of client‐consultant interactions.

Practical implications

The paper highlights the main points of concern for managers and consultants and provides some suggestions on how to achieve a balanced relationship.

Originality/value

This paper's major contribution is in providing deeper insight into a hitherto underexplored issue of client‐consultant interactions: the contested nature of power in client‐consultant teams and the reasons and outcomes of power imbalance.

Details

Journal of Strategy and Management, vol. 2 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-425X

Keywords

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