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Organizational Behavior

6.3 Programmed and Nonprogrammed Decisions

Organizational Behavior6.3 Programmed and Nonprogrammed Decisions
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Management and Organizational Behavior
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 The Nature of Work
    3. 1.2 The Changing Workplace
    4. 1.3 The Nature of Management
    5. 1.4 A Model of Organizational Behavior and Management
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Critical Thinking Case
  3. 2 Individual and Cultural Differences
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Individual and Cultural Factors in Employee Performance
    3. 2.2 Employee Abilities and Skills
    4. 2.3 Personality: An Introduction
    5. 2.4 Personality and Work Behavior
    6. 2.5 Personality and Organization: A Basic Conflict?
    7. 2.6 Personal Values and Ethics
    8. 2.7 Cultural Differences
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Chapter Review Questions
    12. Management Skills Application Exercises
    13. Managerial Decision Exercises
    14. Critical Thinking Case
  4. 3 Perception and Job Attitudes
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 The Perceptual Process
    3. 3.2 Barriers to Accurate Social Perception
    4. 3.3 Attributions: Interpreting the Causes of Behavior
    5. 3.4 Attitudes and Behavior
    6. 3.5 Work-Related Attitudes
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Chapter Review Questions
    10. Management Skills Application Exercises
    11. Managerial Decision Exercises
    12. Critical Thinking Case
  5. 4 Learning and Reinforcement
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Basic Models of Learning
    3. 4.2 Reinforcement and Behavioral Change
    4. 4.3 Behavior Modification in Organizations
    5. 4.4 Behavioral Self-Management
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  6. 5 Diversity in Organizations
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 An Introduction to Workplace Diversity
    3. 5.2 Diversity and the Workforce
    4. 5.3 Diversity and Its Impact on Companies
    5. 5.4 Challenges of Diversity
    6. 5.5 Key Diversity Theories
    7. 5.6 Benefits and Challenges of Workplace Diversity
    8. 5.7 Recommendations for Managing Diversity
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Chapter Review Questions
    12. Management Skills Application Exercises
    13. Managerial Decision Exercises
    14. Critical Thinking Case
  7. 6 Perception and Managerial Decision Making
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 Overview of Managerial Decision-Making
    3. 6.2 How the Brain Processes Information to Make Decisions: Reflective and Reactive Systems
    4. 6.3 Programmed and Nonprogrammed Decisions
    5. 6.4 Barriers to Effective Decision-Making
    6. 6.5 Improving the Quality of Decision-Making
    7. 6.6 Group Decision-Making
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  8. 7 Work Motivation for Performance
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Motivation: Direction and Intensity
    3. 7.2 Content Theories of Motivation
    4. 7.3 Process Theories of Motivation
    5. 7.4 Recent Research on Motivation Theories
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  9. 8 Performance Appraisal and Rewards
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 Performance Appraisal Systems
    3. 8.2 Techniques of Performance Appraisal
    4. 8.3 Feedback
    5. 8.4 Reward Systems in Organizations
    6. 8.5 Individual and Group Incentive Plans
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Chapter Review Questions
    10. Management Skills Application Exercises
    11. Managerial Decision Exercises
    12. Critical Thinking Case
  10. 9 Group and Intergroup Relations
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Work Groups: Basic Considerations
    3. 9.2 Work Group Structure
    4. 9.3 Managing Effective Work Groups
    5. 9.4 Intergroup Behavior and Performance
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  11. 10 Understanding and Managing Work Teams
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Teamwork in the Workplace
    3. 10.2 Team Development Over Time
    4. 10.3 Things to Consider When Managing Teams
    5. 10.4 Opportunities and Challenges to Team Building
    6. 10.5 Team Diversity
    7. 10.6 Multicultural Teams
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  12. 11 Communication
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 The Process of Managerial Communication
    3. 11.2 Types of Communications in Organizations
    4. 11.3 Factors Affecting Communications and the Roles of Managers
    5. 11.4 Managerial Communication and Corporate Reputation
    6. 11.5 The Major Channels of Management Communication Are Talking, Listening, Reading, and Writing
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Chapter Review Questions
    10. Management Skills Application Exercises
    11. Managerial Decision Exercises
    12. Critical Thinking Case
  13. 12 Leadership
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 The Nature of Leadership
    3. 12.2 The Leadership Process
    4. 12.3 Leader Emergence
    5. 12.4 The Trait Approach to Leadership
    6. 12.5 Behavioral Approaches to Leadership
    7. 12.6 Situational (Contingency) Approaches to Leadership
    8. 12.7 Substitutes for and Neutralizers of Leadership
    9. 12.8 Transformational, Visionary, and Charismatic Leadership
    10. 12.9 Leadership Needs in the 21st Century
    11. Key Terms
    12. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    13. Chapter Review Questions
    14. Management Skills Application Exercises
    15. Managerial Decision Exercises
    16. Critical Thinking Case
  14. 13 Organizational Power and Politics
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 Power in Interpersonal Relations
    3. 13.2 Uses of Power
    4. 13.3 Political Behavior in Organizations
    5. 13.4 Limiting the Influence of Political Behavior
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  15. 14 Conflict and Negotiations
    1. Introduction
    2. 14.1 Conflict in Organizations: Basic Considerations
    3. 14.2 Causes of Conflict in Organizations
    4. 14.3 Resolving Conflict in Organizations
    5. 14.4 Negotiation Behavior
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  16. 15 External and Internal Organizational Environments and Corporate Culture
    1. Introduction
    2. 15.1 The Organization's External Environment
    3. 15.2 External Environments and Industries
    4. 15.3 Organizational Designs and Structures
    5. 15.4 The Internal Organization and External Environments
    6. 15.5 Corporate Cultures
    7. 15.6 Organizing for Change in the 21st Century
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  17. 16 Organizational Structure and Change
    1. Introduction
    2. 16.1 Organizational Structures and Design
    3. 16.2 Organizational Change
    4. 16.3 Managing Change
    5. Key Terms
    6. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    7. Chapter Review Questions
    8. Management Skills Application Exercises
    9. Managerial Decision Exercises
    10. Critical Thinking Case
  18. 17 Human Resource Management
    1. Introduction
    2. 17.1 An Introduction to Human Resource Management
    3. 17.2 Human Resource Management and Compliance
    4. 17.3 Performance Management
    5. 17.4 Influencing Employee Performance and Motivation
    6. 17.5 Building an Organization for the Future
    7. 17.6 Talent Development and Succession Planning
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  19. 18 Stress and Well Being
    1. Introduction
    2. 18.1 Problems of Work Adjustment
    3. 18.2 Organizational Influences on Stress
    4. 18.3 Buffering Effects of Work related Stress
    5. 18.4 Coping with Work related Stress
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Critical Thinking Case
  20. 19 Entrepreneurship
    1. Introduction
    2. 19.1 Overview of Entrepreneurship
    3. 19.2 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
    4. 19.3 Business Model Canvas
    5. 19.4 New Venture Financing
    6. 19.5 Design Thinking
    7. 19.6 Optimal Support for Entrepreneurship
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  21. A | Scientific Method in Organizational Research
  22. B | Scoring Keys for Self-Assessment Exercises
  23. References
  24. Index
  1. What is the difference between programmed and nonprogrammed decisions?

Because managers have limited time and must use that time wisely to be effective, it is important for them to distinguish between decisions that can have structure and routine applied to them (called programmed decisions) and decisions that are novel and require thought and attention (nonprogrammed decisions).

Programmed Decisions

Programmed decisions are those that are repeated over time and for which an existing set of rules can be developed to guide the process. These decisions might simple, or they could be fairly complex, but the criteria that go into making the decision are all known or can at least be estimated with a reasonable degree of accuracy. For example, deciding how many raw materials to order should be a programmed decision based on anticipated production, existing stock, and anticipated length of time for the delivery of the final product. As another example, consider a retail store manager developing the weekly work schedule for part-time employees. The manager must consider how busy the store is likely to be, taking into account seasonal fluctuations in business. Then, she must consider the availability of the workers by taking into account requests for vacation and for other obligations that employees might have (such as school). Establishing the schedule might be complex, but it is still a programmed decision: it is made on a regular basis based on well-understood criteria, so structure can be applied to the process. For programmed decisions, managers often develop heuristics, or mental shortcuts, to help reach a decision. For example, the retail store manager may not know how busy the store will be the week of a big sale, but might routinely increase staff by 30% every time there is a big sale (because this has been fairly effective in the past). Heuristics are efficient—they save time for the decision maker by generating an adequate solution quickly. Heuristics don’t necessarily yield the optimal solution—deeper cognitive processing may be required for that. However, they generally yield a good solution. Heuristics are often used for programmed decisions, because experience in making the decision over and over helps the decision maker know what to expect and how to react. Programmed decision-making can also be taught fairly easily to another person. The rules and criteria, and how they relate to outcomes, can be clearly laid out so that a good decision can be reached by the new decision maker. Programmed decisions are also sometimes referred to as routine or low-involvement decisions because they don’t require in-depth mental processing to reach a decision. High- and low-involvement decisions are illustrated in Exhibit 6.3.

A diagram illustrates the different characteristics of high-involvement and low-involvement decisions.
Exhibit 6.3 High-Involvement and Low-Involvement Decisions. (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC-BY 4.0 license)

Nonprogrammed Decisions

In contrast, nonprogrammed decisions are novel, unstructured decisions that are generally based on criteria that are not well-defined. With nonprogrammed decisions, information is more likely to be ambiguous or incomplete, and the decision maker may need to exercise some thoughtful judgment and creative thinking to reach a good solution. These are also sometimes referred to as nonroutine decisions or as high-involvement decisions because they require greater involvement and thought on the part of the decision maker. For example, consider a manager trying to decide whether or not to adopt a new technology. There will always be unknowns in situations of this nature. Will the new technology really be better than the existing technology? Will it become widely accepted over time, or will some other technology become the standard? The best the manager can do in this situation is to gather as much relevant information as possible and make an educated guess as to whether the new technology will be worthwhile. Clearly, nonprogrammed decisions present the greater challenge.

The Decision-Making Process

While decisions makers can use mental shortcuts with programmed decisions, they should use a systematic process with nonprogrammed decisions. The decision-making process is illustrated in Exhibit 6.4 and can be broken down into a series of six steps, as follows:

  1. Recognize that a decision needs to be made.
  2. Generate multiple alternatives.
  3. Analyze the alternatives.
  4. Select an alternative.
  5. Implement the selected alternative.
  6. Evaluate its effectiveness.

While these steps may seem straightforward, individuals often skip steps or spend too little time on some steps. In fact, sometimes people will refuse to acknowledge a problem (Step 1) because they aren’t sure how to address it. We’ll discuss the steps more later in the chapter, when we review ways to improve the quality of decision-making.

A flowchart shows the six steps in the decision-making process.
Exhibit 6.4 The Decision-Making Process. (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC-BY 4.0 license)

You may notice similarities between the two systems of decision-making in our brains and the two types of decisions (programmed and nonprogrammed). Nonprogrammed decisions will generally need to be processed via the reflective system in our brains in order for us to reach a good decision. But with programmed decisions, heuristics can allow decision makers to switch to the quick, reactive system and then move along quickly to other issues.

Concept Check

  1. Give an example of a programmed decision that a manager might face.
  2. Give an example of a nonprogrammed decision.
  3. What are heuristics, and when are they helpful?
  4. How are programmed and nonprogrammed decisions connected to the reflective and reactive systems in the brain?
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