Organizational Decision Making

The purpose of this research is to provide an investigation of organizational decision-making. Although this course speaks to the college presidency my intention is to work in the k-12 system, therefore, the paper will be written in the context of school principals, other school administrators, and teachers rather than using the terms president, administrative team, and faculty. This paper offers a new dimension or expands on the theme introduced in the week ending April 6th, 2001 on Managing The Administrative Team.

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This paper draws heavily on theories of organizational decision making as it relates to managing the administrative team. Sources/References are drawn from the social sciences and business fields. The study will include analysis of the process of decision-making, how groups make decisions, and the ways which participation in decision-making can benefit teachers and the school-organization as a whole. Decision making is a part of nearly every aspect of a principal’s activities. Principals must make decisions about objectives and plans for their school.

They must decide how to direct, how to organize and how to control. In addition to forming their own decisions, principals must guide their subordinates to make decisions. In some cases, principals are simply part of a larger team of administrators and teacher leaders-administrators, and so coordinate the efforts of the team as a whole to solve problems and make decisions. It is up to the principal to gather and evaluate information in order to determine whether a decision is needed. The Principal as Problem Solver

Arriving at a decision is only part of the problem solving process; implementing the decision is a critical part of the process, as well. In some cases, implementation may require merely that the decision be communicated from one individual to another, both of whom are in accord about the implementation of the decision. In other situations, implementation may require long-term programs that change a school’s entire method of operation and have a long-term effect on school culture. Principals are typically involved not only in making decisions that solve problems, but also in implementing those decisions.

Because of this, principals have a strong interest in the decision making process in order to ensure that they make the best decisions possible in a given set of circumstances. This does not mean that principals are able to make perfect decisions; most decisions are made in an atmosphere of imperfection without as many resources as most principals would like and without as much information as principals would like to have available. It is in recognition of these imperfections that principals have turned to formal decision making processes in order to help them make as few poor decisions as possible through the use of quantitative methods.

Group Decision Making In recent years, groups have become increasingly important in the American workplace as companies move toward fewer managers, more empowered workers and away from hierarchical organizational structures. Schools have found the need to follow this pattern as well. Diane Margolis (1979), in The Managers: Corporate Life in America, wrote about this major change in the structure of decision making in the organization more than twenty years ago. Margolis’s analysis highlights not only this change, but also the sociological forces at work behind that change.

She notes the values of the American working person are different now than in the past. A worker now wants more say in what he does and in the decisions that are made that concern him. People that came up in hard times, in the Depression, that were happy to have a job, tended to go along more with whatever kinds of decisions that were made and not feel that they had to be involved. In today’s generation, people growing up in an affluent society feel that it is much more their right to be involved.

With the emergence of groups, many of which form and are re-formed over the course of years within an organization, the way in which individuals interact within those groups has become important to principals and teachers alike. Of particular importance is the way that groups arrive at decisions. Individuals make the most fundamental decisions. When several individuals come together in order to form a group, decisions can be made by the leader, and passed to group members in an autocratic manner, or the group can make decisions as a whole.

The first approach has the advantage of saving time and resources in the decision making process, but it can result in a high level of resistance to change. By involving group members in the decision making process, the organization can benefit from more creative and possibly better decisions than if only one person were responsible for the choice. In addition, decisions in which all members have input can be implemented with fewer difficulties than decisions made in an autocratic manner.