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Meaning of Decision Making

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Everything you need to know about the meaning of decision making.

Decision making may be described as the process of selecting a course of action from several alternatives so that desired result may be accomplished.

The purpose of decision making is to direct human behaviour and commitment towards a future goal. It involves committing the organisation and its resources, to a particular choice of course of action, thought to be sufficient and capable of achieving some predetermined objective.

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Learn about the meaning and definitions put forth by different authors and management thinkers like Koontz and O’Donnel, George R. Terry, Louis A. Allen, Marry Nites, Heinz Weihrich, Harold Koontz, Manely H. Jonesand, Andrew Smilagyi, D.E. Mc Farland, Henry Sisk and Clifston Williams, Mary Cushing Nites, R.S. Davar, K.M. Bartol and D.C. Martin and Others.


What do you Mean by Decision Making?

Decision Making Meaning – According to Koontz and O’Donnel, George R. Terry and Louis A. Allen

Decision-making is an important function of every manager. Under planning important things like, ‘what is to be done’, ‘how it is to be done’, when it is to be done and who is to do it are considered. In an answer to all these questions a manager has various alternatives. When a manager chooses the best alternative out of many available ones, it is called decision and the process that has been adopted in order to reach the final decision is known as the decision-making.

A decision is essential in all the managerial functions like planning, organising, staffing, directing, and controlling. All the managerial functions are performed through the medium of a decision. The managers are doubly benefitted when they face problems and try to find out their solutions.

Firstly, by finding out an effective solution they serve the organisation, and secondly, they are personally satisfied. Thus, it is clear that the success of an organisation depends on the manager, and a manager succeeds only when he possesses the quality of taking effective decision.

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Decision-making means analysing different alternatives and arriving at decision in the face of a particular situation about what to do and what not to do. In this way decision-making means reaching a conclusion or final decision which can be implemented as a solution of a problem. Since the managers are invariably faced with some problem or the other for which they have to find a solution, it is said that decision-making is perpetually needed and Simon has very pertinently observed that “To make decision is Management”.

Different management experts have defined decision-making differently.

Some prominent definitions are given below:

According to Koontz and O’Donnel, “Decision-making is the actual selection from among alternatives of a course of action.”

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According to George R. Terry, “Decision-making is the selection based on some criteria from two or more possible alternatives.”

According to Louis A. Allen, “Decision-making is the work which a manager performs to arrive at conclusion and judgement.”

On the basis of the above mentioned definitions it can be said that decision-making involves the selection of the best available alternative as a solution of some problem. It is thus clear that a decision is needed when there are many alternatives to do a work. In other words, if there is only one method of doing a work there is no need to take a decision and in that case that method in itself is a decision.


Decision Making Meaning – Defined by George R. Terry, Marry Nites, Heinz Weihrich and Harold Koontz

Decision-making may be described as the process of selecting a course of action from several alternatives so that desired result may be accomplished. The purpose of decision-making is to direct human behaviour and commitment towards a future goal. It involves committing the organisation and its resources, to a particular choice of course of action, thought to be sufficient and capable of achieving some predetermined objective.

George R. Terry opines, “Decision-making is the selection based on certain criteria from two or more alternatives.”

Marry Nites opines, “Decision-making takes place in adopting the objectives and choosing the means and again when a change in the situation creates a necessity for adjustments.”

Heinz Weihrich and Harold Koontz define decision-making as, “Decision-making is defined as the selection of a course of action among alternatives; it is the care of planning.”

In the organisation, the managers are responsible for making decisions and solving problems. In fact, decision-making is the process of reducing the gap between the existing situation and the desired situation through solving problems and making effective use of opportunities that spring up. A decision is conclusion reached after consideration; it occurs when one option is selected, to exclusion of others as it is a rendering of judgment.


Decision Making Meaning – According to Various Management Thinkers

Decision-making is also one of the functions of the management. The management executive takes a number of decisions every day. They are not able to discharge their duties without taking any decisions. A decision may be a direction to others to do or not to do. Thus, a decision may be rational or irrational. There are a number of alternatives available to the management. The best one is selected out of the available alternatives.

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Best decision-making is necessary for effective functioning of management. The success of management depends upon the quality of decision. If the manager fails to take correct decision, he may not extract any work from his sub-ordinates and may not find a way to finish his work also. Some of the decisions are taken emotionally. This should be avoided with great care. Emotional decision leads to a lot of confusion. So, the decision-making is an important work of the superiors.

Manely H. Jones, “It is a solution selected after examining several alternatives chosen because the decider foresees that the course of action he elects will be more than the others to further his goals and will be accompanied by the fewest possible objectionable consequences.”

Andrew Smilagyi, “Decision-making is a process involving information, choice of alternative actions, implementations, and evaluation that is directed to the achievement of certain stated goals.”

George R. Terry, “Decision-making is the selection based on some criteria from two or more possible alternatives.”

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John MacDonald, “The business executive is by profession a decision-maker. Uncertainty is his opponent, overcoming it is his mission. Whether the outcome is a consequence of luck or wisdom, the moment of decision-making is without doubt the most creative event in the life of the executive.”

D.E. Mc Farland, “A decision is an act of choice wherein an executive forms a conclusion about what must be done in a given situation. A decision represents a behaviour chosen from a number of possible alternatives.”

Henry Sisk and Clifston Williams, “A decision is the selection of a course of action from two or more alternatives; the decision-making process is a sequence of steps leading to that selection.”

Shull-et-al, “Decision-making is a conscious and human process, involving both individual and social phenomenon based upon factual and value premises, which concludes with a choice of one behavioural activity from among one or more alternatives with the intention of moving towards some desired state of affairs.”

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Mary Cushing Nites, “Decision-making takes place in adopting the objectives and choosing the means and again when a change in the situation creates a necessity for adjustments.”

R.S. Davar, “Decision-making may be defined as the selection based on some criteria of one behaviour alternative from two or more possible alternatives.”


Decision Making Meaning – Views of Different Writers

A decision represents an action consciously chosen from among a set of alternatives to accomplish a desired result. It is the end result of hunch, intuition, reasoning and planning. Decision-making is the quintessence, or core or key to managerial job. The success of an organization reflects sound decisions taken by it. Of course certain decisions might not have accomplished the result. But the decision maker learns from negative decisions as to what should not have been done in a given situation.

“Decision-making is the process of identifying and selecting a course of action to solve a specific problem”. — James A.F. Stoner, R. Edward Freeman and Daniel R. Gilbert, Jr

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“Decision-making is the process through which managers identify organizational problems and attempt to resolve them”. — K.M. Bartol and D.C. Martin

“Decision-making is a conscious human process involving both individual and social phenomena based upon factual and value premises which conclude with a choice of one behavioural activity from among two or more alternatives with the intention of moving towards some desired state of affairs”. — F.A. Shull, A.L. Delbecq and L.L. Cumnings


Decision Making Meaning

More than anything else, the capability to make sound, timely decisions differentiates a successful manager from a non-successful. It is the responsibility of managers to make high quality decisions that are accepted and executed in a timely fashion. On the face of it the decisions should be cohesive, conjectured, contingent, flexible, improved, influencing, intuitional, non-judgmental, objective, operational one.

One of the most important functions of a manager is to take decisions. Whatever a manager does, he does through decision-making. Each managerial decision is concerned with the process of decision-making. It is because of this pervasiveness of decision-making that Professor Herbert Simon has said the process of managing as a process of decision-making.

According to him, a post or position cannot be said to be managerial level until and unless the right of decision-making is attached to it. As a matter of act, it is the core of executive activities in a business organization.

Decision-making is a mental process. It is a process of selecting one best alternative for doing a work. Thus, it is a particular course of action chosen by a decision-maker as the most effective alternative for achieving his goals. According to D.E. McFarland, “A decision is an act of choice wherein an executive forms a conclusion about what must be done in a given situation. A decision represents a course of behaviour chosen from a number of possible alternatives”. In the words of Haynes and Massie, “A decision is a course of action which is consciously chosen for achieving a desired result”.

Hence, decision-making is a typical form of planning. It involves choosing the best alternative among various alternatives, in order to realize certain objectives. A decision represents a judgement, a final word, and resolution of conflicts or a commitment to act in certain manner in the given set of circumstances.

It is really a mental exercise which decides what to do. Leaders must be able to reason under the most critical conditions and decide quickly what action to take. If they delay or avoid making a decision, this indecisiveness may create hesitancy, loss of confidence, and confusion within the unit, and may cause the task to fail.

Since leaders are frequently faced with unexpected circumstances, it is important to be flexible-leaders must be able to react promptly to each situation. Then, when circumstances dictate a change in plans, prompt reaction builds confidence in them.


Decision Making Meaning

A managerial function that encompasses all the other functions of management, that is, making decisions.

A decision is a choice made from available alternatives. Decision-making is the process of identifying problems and opportunities and selecting a course of action to deal with a specific problem or take advantage of an opportunity. Managers often are referred to as decision makers. Managerial decision-making differs from personal decision-making in the systematic, specialised attention that managers give to decision-making. Decision-making is not easy. It must be done amid ever-changing factors, unclear information, and conflicting points of view.

Good decision-making is a vital part of good management, because decisions determine how the organisation solves its problems, allocates resources, and accomplishes its goals. Although many of their important decisions are strategic, managers also make decisions about every other aspect of an organisation, including structure, control systems, responses to the environment, and human resources.

Plans and strategies are arrived at through decision ­making; the better the decision-making, the better the strategic planning. Managers scout for problems and opportunities, make decisions for solving or taking advantage of them, and monitor the consequences to see whether additional decisions are required. Decision-making deals with problems. A problem arises when an actual state of affairs differs from a desired state of affairs.

Examples of problem situations are:

i. A deviation from past experience.

ii. A deviation from a set plan.

iii. Other people’s problems or decisions.

iv. The performance of competitors.

In many cases, a problem maybe an opportunity in disguise.

It is not always clear whether a situation faced by a manager presents a problem or an opportunity. David B. Gleicher, a management consultant, defines a problem as something that endangers the organisation’s ability to reach its objectives, and an opportunity as something that offers the chance to exceed objectives.

According to Peter Drucker, opportunities rather than problems are the key to organisational and managerial success. Drucker observes that solving a problem merely restores normality, whereas the exploitation of opportunities leads to progress.


Meaning of Decision-Making – Definitions Provided by MacFerland, George Terry, Koontz and O’Donnel and Lowis A.Allen 

Decision making is an important job of a manager. It involves choosing a course of action from several alternative courses of action. It is the selection of one course of action from two or more alternative courses of action. The way a manager acts or decides the course of action from among various alternatives is an act of decision making. All managerial functions are performed through the medium of decision.

MacFerland, “A decision is an act of choice wherein an executive forms a conclusion about what must be done in a given situation. A decision represents a course of behavior chosen from a number of possible alternatives.”

George Terry, “Decision-making is the selection based on some criteria from two or more possible alternatives.”

Koontz and O’ Donnel, “Decision-making is the actual selection from among alternatives of a course of action.”

Lowis A. Allen, “Decision-making is the work which a manager performs to arrive at conclusion and judgment.”

From the analysis of the definitions, it can be said that decision making is the process of selecting a most suitable alternative for solving a particular problem. There should be a number of alternatives available and out of which one has to be selected to face a given situation. In case there is only one alternative, then there will not be any decision for selection, since available alternative itself is the decision.


Meaning of Decision-Making – According to Heinz Weihrich and Harold Koontz, Kreitner and Huber

Decision-making describes the process by which a course of action is selected as the way to deal with a specific problem. A decision involves the act of choice and the alternative chosen out of the available alternatives.

According to Heinz Weihrich and Harold Koontz,” Decision-making is defined as the selection of a course of action from among alternatives.”

George R. Terry says, “Decision-making is the selection based on some criteria from two or more possible alternatives.”

A decision is a set of choices wherein an executive forms a conclusion about what must be done in a given situation. A decision represents a course of behaviour chosen from a number of possible alternatives.

According to Haynes and Massie, “Decision-making is a course of action which is con­sciously chosen for achieving the desired results.”

Kreitner says, “Decision-making is a process of identifying and choosing alternative course of action in a manner appropriate to the demand of the situation. The act of choosing implies the alternative course of action must be weighted and weeded out.”

The above analysis ascertained that decision making is concerned with searching and evaluating alternatives to a problem and selecting the best alternative. As decision making is a way to deal with a specific problem. George P. Huber distinguishes it from choice-making and problem solving.

According to Huber, choice making refers to the narrow set of activities involved in choosing one option from a set of alternatives. So, choice-making is a part of decision-making. Problem-solving refers to the broad set of activities involved in finding and implementing a course of action to correct an unsatisfactory situation. However, many authors and managers use the term decision-making and problem-solving interchangeably

Decision making is defined as selecting a course of action from among alternatives. It is the core of planning. The organisations will have different plans only when decisions are taken in terms of commitment of resources. The main job of a manager is taking decisions on what to do, when to do, who to do, how to do, where to do and answering all other such questions. Decisions give direction to organisations.

Decide means arriving at a solution that ends uncertainty or dispute. Decide originated from Latin word decidere which means to cut off.

Decision making is an integral part of the job of a manager or leader. It is the essence of the job description. A competitive compensation or salary package is paid to the managers because they have to take decisions. There are number of cases where bad decisions and bad decision making are considered as the root cause for the collapse.

The decisions are made every time and everywhere.

The decision making is a discipline that entails the following:

1. Realise – when and why decisions are needed.

2. Declare the decision – Announce what the decision is and answer all questions such as -who, what, how, where, etc.

3. Generate the alternatives – generate a complete set of alternatives, gather the information to identify the possibilities and probabilities, and ultimately make a choice that best fits the organisational values.

4. Commit resources and act – Once resources are committed, it becomes irreversible. So lot of attention is required in this stage.

Seldom all these four are carried out consistently or consistently well. If these are done well as and when required, most problems are solved in time. In some other cases, mere decisions do not yield results. How well the decisions are well-implemented matters a lot for quality results.


Meaning of Decision-Making

For any person, decision-making is inevitable. From morning till night one goes making decision after decision to reach his goals. Think of yourself, after your school final you started to decide what to do next – going for a job, higher education, if so which college to join, which stream you have to join and so on. After your Inter/Pre-university course where to join and which college to join etc.

Similarly, a business manager who has to manage the business to reach certain goals, has to bother every second to decide something or the other regarding the day-to-day work. The life of the manager is filled with making decisions after decisions. The decisions determine both managerial and/or organizational action. Decision-making is the fundamental responsibility of a manager while making plans, establishing objectives, in policy-making and so on. The decisions taken by a manager has got effect on the work of a subordinate.

Decision-making can be defined as the selection based on some criteria of one behaviour alternative form of two or more possible alternatives available. Decision-making involves two or more alternatives, because if here is only one choice there is no chance of decision-making except to accept the choice. To decide means to cut off or, in practical content, to come to conclusion. The selection of one of the alternatives among the available alternatives is based on the criteria of favourable decision (optimal decision) as far as the organization is concerned.

Simply we can put the above as:

(i) Managers make decisions by choosing the best alternative (optimal alternative) on basis of some conscious and deliberate logic or judgement.

(ii) Managers will have a number of alternatives to evaluate and select the most favourable alternative in the best interest of the organization, which require wisdom and experience to evaluate several alternatives and select the best one.

(iii) Managers have a purpose in mind when they make a decision, which aims at fulfilling the organizational goals optimally.

According to Mac Farland— “A decision is an act of choice wherein an executive forms a conclusion about what must be done in a given situation. A decision represents a course of behaviour chosen from a number of possible alternatives.”

Decision-making is defined by Harold Koontz as—”Decision-making is the selection of a course of action among alternative, it is the core of planning.”

George or terry says— “Decision-making is a selection based on certain criteria from two or more alternatives”.


Meaning of Decision-Making

It is a continuous process of human life. Participation in the process of decision making is, therefore, a common feature. Let it be it for the manager in industry, or the executive in the Government or a person in the common walk of life. Management is always a decision making process.

The decision may be made as a matter of routine or may require a systematic or detailed analysis. Never the less today in any organised activity has the requirement for effective management become almost universal. Looking back we can realise that in industrial revolution, there has been remarkable growth, size and complexity of organisations.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, technology has grown at a tremendous pace and rate of growth is fast continuing. This has added to the wake, new problems new variables and new uncertainties. The services today are not what they used to be; they are far more complex decision regarding development and introduction of new technological changes in industrial field.

The word ‘decision’ means, condition reached after consideration or to decide to accept a course of action of the exciting alternatives. According to J.W. Duncan, “A decision is a conscious choice to behave or think in a particular way in a given set of circumstances. When a choice has been made, and a decision has been arrived at and according to him decision making is a process of choosing a course of action from two or three alternatives.”

Basically, the decision maker faces three major problems:

(i) Multiplicity of factors which bear upon the decision.

(ii) Complexity of relationship existing between these factors.

(iii) The likelihood of the situation being affected more by uncertain events that are predictable once.

The decision maker generally deals with all those by his adequate experience. He usually rely on his brain to consider various alternatives to evaluate them in the light of some probabilities for the uncertain events and arrive at a decision. More specifically, he makes decisions on the basis of some sort of mental model of the situation and therefore, the quality of his decision depends largely on the accuracy of the model.

In this context, the magnitude and complexity of problems, the decision is more or less, likely to be as guess work and his leading. Many research works during the past four decades have been directed towards reducing a minimum guess work in decision making. The aim has been to express wherever possible, the basic situation in the mathematical terms and then to base the decision on an analytic process of optimisation.


Meaning of Decision-Making – Views Given by Shull, Delberg and Gumming, R.S.Daver, Kreitner, Melvin T, Copeland and Peter Drucker

Decision making is an important and core activity of management process. Decisions are made by every manager depends on the situation problem and hierarchy. It is regular exercise on the part of manager. A decision is the act of choosing among two or more options. There decisions are related to planning, organising, staffing, directing controlling and other matters concerned to various functional areas such as production, marketing, finance and personnel, etc. The success or failure of an organisation depends on quality of decisions. According to Mc For land, “A decision is an act of choice where in an executive forms a conclusion about what must be done in a given situation”. The process concerned with making decisions is known as decision making.

Decision making is inherent in all the managerial functions and covers all the areas of business. It is a managerial process involving selection of a particular course of action out of many alternatives for achieving given objectives or solving a problem. It takes place only when more than one alternative is available to manager. Actually, managers are decision makers and the success or failure of any decision is based on ability and experience of the manager because they make many vital decisions oil objectives and goals, strategies and policies of the organisation.

Some definitions are as follows:

Decision making is a conscious and human process involving both individual and social phenomenon based upon factual and value premises which concludes with a choice of one behaviour activity among one or more alternatives with the intention of moving towards some desired state of affairs. – Shull, Delberg and Gumming

Decision making can be defined as the selection based on some criteria of one behaviour alternatives from two or more possible alternatives. To decide means, “to cut off” or in practical, content, “to come to conclusion.” – R.S.Daver

Decision making is a process of identifying and choosing alternative courses of action in a manner appropriate to the demand of the situation. The act of choosing implies that alternative courses of action must be weighted and weeded out. – Kreitner

Administration essentially is a decision making process and authority is responsible for making decision and for as certaining that the decisions made are carried out. – Melvin T, Copeland

According to Peter Drucker, “Whatever a manager does, he does through decision making.” In every situation, a manager faces a challenge of making correct, timely and effective decisions to get best out of the situation. All decisions made by managers are directed at making the organisation a functional and productive unit identify and maintain continuity of its working life.


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