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Book part
Publication date: 26 October 2012

William Ocasio

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…

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.

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The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-713-0

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Book part
Publication date: 22 July 2021

Michael Sauder, Hyunsik Chun and Wendy Espeland

Organizational metrics – including rankings, ratings, and other forms of public assessment – are inextricably tied to uncertainty. Metrics are not only responses to…

Abstract

Organizational metrics – including rankings, ratings, and other forms of public assessment – are inextricably tied to uncertainty. Metrics are not only responses to uncertainty in the organizational environment, but they also create new forms of uncertainty within the organizations they evaluate. Given this, it is productive to consider these metrics in relation to the garbage can model of organizational decision making, a framework that was designed to provide insight into uncertain and ambiguous contexts. In this paper, the authors use the case of patient experience surveys to argue for the value of this model for understanding responses to metrics in particular conditions. Specifically, the authors demonstrate how the different features of the garbage can model manifest themselves within organizations managing numbers, and the authors then use these findings to discuss the measurement conditions that promote garbage can responses, the distinctive types of unintended consequences these responses might produce, and the implications of the garbage can model for the understanding of metrics more generally.

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Book part
Publication date: 26 October 2012

Thorbjørn Knudsen, Massimo Warglien and Sangyoon Yi

We develop an experimental setting where the assumptions and predictions of the garbage can model can be tested. A careful reconstruction of the original simulation model

Abstract

We develop an experimental setting where the assumptions and predictions of the garbage can model can be tested. A careful reconstruction of the original simulation model let us select parameters that leave room for potential variations in individual behavior. Our experimental design replicates these parameters and thereby facilitates comparison of human behavior with the original model. We find that the majority strategy of human subjects is consistent with the original model, but exhibits some behavioral diversity. Human subjects exhibit fluid diverse behaviors that improve coordination in the face of uncertainty, but hinder collective learning that can improve group performance.

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The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-713-0

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2003

Christopher G. Reddick

Three rival internal change theories of budgeting have characterized the twentieth century. Internal change theories consider the importance of change made inside…

Abstract

Three rival internal change theories of budgeting have characterized the twentieth century. Internal change theories consider the importance of change made inside governments; exogenous factors do not have a significant bearing on outcomes in these approaches. The century started out with the rational/scientific, then moved to incrementalism by mid to latecentury. The century ended with the garbage can model. This paper tests the descriptive power of each of these models on budget outcome data. The methods used in this study were time series modeling of monthly U.S. national government budget outcomes from 1968 to 1999. The results provide support for both incrementalism and rational/scientific budgeting. There was no support found in this study for the anarchical tendencies associated with the garbage can theory of budgeting. These results suggest that the garbage can model may not deserve its reputation as the dominant budgeting paradigm at the close of the twentieth century.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

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Book part
Publication date: 26 October 2012

Mie Augier and Jerry Guo

This chapter explores geopolitics, garbage cans, the need for interdisciplinary insight, and the lures and limitations of one-sided mono-disciplinary conceptual models in…

Abstract

This chapter explores geopolitics, garbage cans, the need for interdisciplinary insight, and the lures and limitations of one-sided mono-disciplinary conceptual models in understanding strategic decision making. We argue that a combination of the garbage can model and Nathan Leites’ psycho-cultural approach to decision making might be useful in giving insights for events and for organizational behavior. As a decision making case, we consider the 1941 decision of the Empire of Japan to declare war on the Allied Powers. We find that there could be useful lines of integration between the garbage can framework and other perspectives in geopolitical decision making. In using a historical example to illustrate the possible integration, we argue that there are inherent limits to single-model decision making approaches. Developing interdisciplinary frameworks for understanding foreign policy decision making may lead to better insights in real-world processes and seems like a step in a fruitful direction.

Details

The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-713-0

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Book part
Publication date: 26 October 2012

Jerker Denrell

The garbage can model showed that what appears to be irrational and unpredictable choices can be explained by processes that regulate attention allocation and the…

Abstract

The garbage can model showed that what appears to be irrational and unpredictable choices can be explained by processes that regulate attention allocation and the availability of choice alternatives. Because attention to alternatives fluctuates, the model generates context-dependent choices: evaluations of alternatives depend on the mix of other alternatives considered. I re-examine the mechanisms by which fluctuating attention can cause context-dependent choices. Using insights from behavioral decision theory I demonstrate how adding fluctuating attention to a well-known model of organizational decision making generates context-dependent choices of a kind that could not be explained by a maximizing process.

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The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-713-0

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Book part
Publication date: 26 October 2012

Jonathan Bendor and Kenneth W. Shotts

We build three stochastic models of garbage can processes in an organization populated by boundedly rational agents. Although short-run behavior in our models can be quite…

Abstract

We build three stochastic models of garbage can processes in an organization populated by boundedly rational agents. Although short-run behavior in our models can be quite chaotic, they generate systematic, testable predictions about patterns of organizational choice. These predictions are determined, in fairly intuitive ways, by the degree of preference conflict among agents in the organization, by their patterns of attention, and by their tendencies to make errors. We also show that nontrivial temporal orders can arise endogenously in one of our models, but only when some form of intentional order, based on agents’ preferences, is also present.

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The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-713-0

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Article
Publication date: 17 April 2020

Emanuel Tamir and Mirit K. Grabarski

This paper aims to apply the garbage can model to identify factors that affect managerial decision-making processes in educational systems undergoing reforms.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to apply the garbage can model to identify factors that affect managerial decision-making processes in educational systems undergoing reforms.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper used a qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews with 39 teachers and managers in schools undergoing a system-wide reform.

Findings

The paper presents examples for a typology of decision outcomes found in the model and provides explanations for their emergence. It shows that there are many challenges that are associated with reform implementation and suggests factors that need to be taken into account when planning and implementing a reform.

Originality/value

School management and policy makers can learn about the risks that are associated with garbage can decision-making and the various risk factors. Practical suggestions are given to reduce the probability of suboptimal decision-making.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 58 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 26 October 2012

Sridhar Seshadri and Zur Shapira

We examine the garbage can model as a case of organizational decision making under temporal order constraints such as in the case of a dispatcher on whose desk problems…

Abstract

We examine the garbage can model as a case of organizational decision making under temporal order constraints such as in the case of a dispatcher on whose desk problems, solutions, and choice opportunities arrive in a stochastic order and get resolved at particular points in time. We follow the original (Cohen, March, & Olsen, 1972) simulation except their particular setup where the problems and decision makers have access to information regarding the decisions made up to the end of the previous period a rule that we consider to be myopic. Making the assignment (or rule) less myopic would be to provide information about problems that were attached in the current period and about decision makers that were assigned a choice this period to problems and to decision makers. We also bring in an expediter who can select one or two choices to expedite each period. The expediter is endowed with a total energy of 55 that can be expended on resolving any choice to decision. Each period after the problems are attached and decision makers assigned to choices, the expediter scans the choices. The expediter selects the two choices that are the closest to decision and expends energy to move them to decision. The simulations we ran show improvement in certain situations as measured by the number of unsolved problems. We discuss our results in the sense of providing simple design features to a complex decision situation. We also discuss the paradigm of the garbage can model in the larger context of organizational decision making.

Details

The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-713-0

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Book part
Publication date: 26 October 2012

Daniel A. Levinthal

The garbage can model of organizational decision making was initially framed as being particularly applicable to universities and other “illegitimate” organizations that…

Abstract

The garbage can model of organizational decision making was initially framed as being particularly applicable to universities and other “illegitimate” organizations that were likely subject to unclear technology and goals. It is argued here that corporate strategy making, a most traditional organizational process, may be subject to garbage can processes as well. While business firms may have a goal of profit maximization, the “technology” of profit maximization, particularly over moderately distant horizons, is typically sufficiently poorly understood so as to permit garbage can-like mechanisms to come into play. Consideration of garbage can processes in a corporate context also suggests some enrichments of the original conceptualization, particularly the role of organizational politics. Problem resolution is not merely an issue of the mobilization of sufficient collective energy, but is also a problem of legitimation. In the corporate context, legitimation is importantly driven by the links that can be made between a possible solution and the, typically ambiguous, corporate strategy.

Details

The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-713-0

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