Volume 20 (2), pp. 143–160
Decision-making: Theory and practice
SM Turpin∗ MA Marais†
Received: 24 June 2004; Revised: 15 September 2004; Accepted: 6 October 2004
This paper compares a number of theoretical models of decision-making with the way in
which senior managers make decisions in practice. Six prominent decision-makers were in-
terviewed about their own decision-making style, as well as their use of decision support
technology. Signiﬁcant variation was found in personal decision-making styles. However,
some central themes emerged, such as the importance of sensitivity to the decision-making
context, attention to the presentation of information, and the use of intuition. In terms of
the use of decision support technology, the use of self-help tools, such as oﬃce software, was
Key words: Decision-making, decision-maker
Decision support consultants are employed or decision support systems (DSS) are imple-
mented in order to support decision-making in an organisation. This assumes that the way
in which decision-making actually takes place in the organisation is understood. There
are many models of decision-making. People with a background in quantitative analysis
would typically have been exposed to rational decision-making methods, such as Simon’s
(1977) four-step decision model that incorporates intelligence, design, choice and review.
This process is often accompanied by the calculation of the sub jective expected utility
(SEU) or another way of ranking alternatives to facilitate choosing the best option.
It has been observed that the outputs of decision support pro jects, often packaged as
decision support systems, are not used to support decision-making in the way that was
intended. This could imply some discrepancy between the decision-making process that
is being assumed or modelled and the way...