Decision Styles

While doing the background research for this chapter, it became apparent there are as many, if not more, variations for decision styles as there are for learning styles. It's a significant topic for management books. But we won't assume that there is one right answer. If such a thing were to exist, we wouldn't see such a variety of ideas.

What we can say is that people have a preference for making decisions in a particular way. The pressure of time or of finding themselves in a situation where they have no knowledge or experience may force them to change styles, but may also cause them to defer making a decision until they are comfortable with it.

In the late 1980s, three researchers, Alan Rowe, James Boulgarides, and Richard Mason, wrote a series of books and papers based on a decision styles categorization scheme they created which used two dimensions, in a similar way to McCarthy's learning styles:

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COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY

At one end of the scale are people who must have consistency and well-structured information, whereas at the other end are people who can handle high levels of ambiguity and complex intermixed ideas.

VALUE ORIENTATION

At one end of this dimension, people are task-focused on the specific activities and details; at the other end, there is a social focus, with concerns more toward the impact on other people, organizations, and social groups.

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