IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Investigating the Success of Decision Making Processes


  • Paul C. Nutt


A decision making process is made up of action-taking steps indicating "how" to make a decision. When linked to indicators of success, process provides the basis for building an action theory for decision making. The success of many different types of processes must be documented before such a theory can be constructed. In this research, processes called 'idea imposition' and 'discovery' are investigated by analysing 202 organizational decisions and their outcomes. Discovery was derived from prescriptive literature, which stresses logical and political rationality. Idea imposition was inferred from the descriptive/interpretive literature, which stresses pragmatics and sense making. Some of the discovery efforts may be abandoned to exploit an opportunity, becoming an 'emergent opportunity' process. Idea imposition efforts end if the motivating idea fails, calling for steps to find a replacement with a 'redevelopment' process. Analysis revealed that discovery was more successful than idea imposition and both process adaptations. Discovery was more successful than the other three processes no matter what the urgency, importance, resource level, initial support, decision maker level, sector, or type of decision. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2008.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul C. Nutt, 2008. "Investigating the Success of Decision Making Processes," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 425-455, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:45:y:2008:i:2:p:425-455

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nutt, Paul C., 2001. "A taxonomy of strategic decisions and tactics for uncovering alternatives," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 132(3), pages 505-527, August.
    2. Paul C. Nutt, 1993. "The Identification of Solution Ideas During Organizational Decision Making," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(9), pages 1071-1085, September.
    3. Paul Nutt, 2004. "On doing process research," International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(1), pages 1-26.
    4. Paul C. Nutt, 1993. "The Formulation Processes and Tactics Used in Organizational Decision Making," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(2), pages 226-251, May.
    5. Theresa K. Lant & Stephen J. Mezias, 1992. "An Organizational Learning Model of Convergence and Reorientation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 3(1), pages 47-71, February.
    6. Nutt, Paul C., 2005. "Search during decision making," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 160(3), pages 851-876, February.
    7. Tsuyoshi Numagami, 1998. "Perspective—The Infeasibility of Invariant Laws in Management Studies: A Reflective Dialogue in Defense of Case Studies," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 9(1), pages 1-15, February.
    8. Ann Langley & Henry Mintzberg & Patricia Pitcher & Elizabeth Posada & Jan Saint-Macary, 1995. "Opening up Decision Making: The View from the Black Stool," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 6(3), pages 260-279, June.
    9. Paul C. Nutt, 1998. "Framing Strategic Decisions," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 9(2), pages 195-216, April.
    10. Paul C. Nutt, 1998. "Leverage, Resistance and the Success of Implementation Approaches," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(2), pages 213-240, March.
    11. Nutt, Paul C., 2000. "Context, tactics, and the examination of alternatives during strategic decision making," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 159-186, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Sara A. Kreindler, 2016. "What if implementation is not the problem? Exploring the missing links between knowledge and action," International Journal of Health Planning and Management, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(2), pages 208-226, April.
    2. Franco, L. Alberto & Rouwette, Etienne A.J.A., 2011. "Decision development in facilitated modelling workshops," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 212(1), pages 164-178, July.
    3. Cees B. M. van Riel & Guido Berens & Majorie Dijkstra, 2009. "Stimulating Strategically Aligned Behaviour Among Employees," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(7), pages 1197-1226, November.
    4. Dimitratos, Pavlos & Petrou, Andreas & Plakoyiannaki, Emmanuella & Johnson, Jeffrey E., 2011. "Strategic decision-making processes in internationalization: Does national culture of the focal firm matter?," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 194-204, April.
    5. Martin Kowalczyk & Peter Buxmann, 2014. "Big Data and Information Processing in Organizational Decision Processes," Business & Information Systems Engineering: The International Journal of WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK, Springer;Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI), vol. 6(5), pages 267-278, October.
    6. Jeffrey W. Alstete & E. Gregory M. Cannarozzi, 2014. "Big data in managerial decision-making: concerns and concepts to reduce risk," International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 5(1), pages 57-71.
    7. Madureira Simaens, Ana, 2015. "Responding to complexity : A systems approach to strategy and interorganizational networks in the context of third sector organizations," Other publications TiSEM 84077bdb-a62a-478f-ba4e-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    8. Franco, L. Alberto & Rouwette, Etiënne A.J.A. & Korzilius, Hubert, 2016. "Different paths to consensus? The impact of need for closure on model-supported group conflict management," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 249(3), pages 878-889.
    9. Muethel, Miriam & Hoegl, Martin, 2010. "Cultural and societal influences on shared leadership in globally dispersed teams," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 234-246, September.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:45:y:2008:i:2:p:425-455. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley Content Delivery) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.