The concept of decision: a deconstructive analysis

Chia, R. (1994) The concept of decision: a deconstructive analysis. Journal of Management Studies, 31(6), pp. 781-806. (doi:10.1111/j.1467-6486.1994.tb00639.x)

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Decision‐making as a central concept in management and organization theory has had a colourful and controversial career spanning some 50 years. During this time its image and meaning has shifted substantially to the point where its explanatory value as an established conceptual category in management and organizational analysis has been questioned. In this article, I attempt a critical study of the concept of decision and try to show that the various attempts to replace it by other terms such as ‘action’, and ‘change’, overlook the ontological status of the decision‐making process. I argue here that decision is better understood as a series of interlocking pre‐definitive acts of punctuating the flow of human experiences in order to facilitate sense‐making and to alleviate our Cartesian anxiety. Decisions are not so much about ‘choice’or ‘intentions’as about the primordial ‘will to order’whereby interlocking configurations of micro‐incisions punctuating our phenomenal experiences contrive to construct and reinforce a stable but precarious version of reality. When viewed thus, decision‐making takes on a very different meaning ‐ one that accentuates the concrete everydayness of micro‐decisional acts which re‐enact the ongoing contestation between order and disorder, routinization and breakdown, organization and disorganization, chaos and cosmos. Such micro‐decisional ontological acts are what produces and sustains a version of reality to which we then subsequently respond. It is this ‘becoming’theory of decision‐making which is offered as an alternative to the ‘event’driven model of decisional theorizing.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Chia, Professor Robert
Authors: Chia, R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Journal of Management Studies
ISSN (Online):1467-6486

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