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How Can Decision Making Be Improved?


  • Katherine Lyford Milkman

    () (Harvard Business School)

  • Dolly Chugh

    () (New York University, Stern School of Business)

  • Max H. Bazerman

    () (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit)


The optimal moment to address the question of how to improve human decision making has arrived. Thanks to fifty years of research by judgment and decision making scholars, psychologists have developed a detailed picture of the ways in which human judgment is bounded. This paper argues that the time has come to focus attention on the search for strategies that will improve bounded judgment because decision making errors are costly and are growing more costly, decision makers are receptive, and academic insights are sure to follow from research on improvement. In addition to calling for research on improvement strategies, this paper organizes the existing literature pertaining to improvement strategies, highlighting promising directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Katherine Lyford Milkman & Dolly Chugh & Max H. Bazerman, 2008. "How Can Decision Making Be Improved?," Harvard Business School Working Papers 08-102, Harvard Business School, revised Jul 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:08-102

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard Thaler, 2007. "Heuristics and Biases in Retirement Savings Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 81-104, Summer.
    2. Thompson, Leigh & Gentner, Dedre & Loewenstein, Jeffrey, 2000. "Avoiding Missed Opportunities in Managerial Life: Analogical Training More Powerful Than Individual Case Training," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 60-75, May.
    3. Cooper, Arnold C. & Woo, Carolyn Y. & Dunkelberg, William C., 1988. "Entrepreneurs' perceived chances for success," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 97-108.
    4. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
    5. Shiv, Baba & Fedorikhin, Alexander, 1999. " Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 278-292, December.
    6. Katherine L. Milkman & Todd Rogers & Max H. Bazerman, 2007. "Highbrow Films Gather Dust: A Study of Dynamic Inconsistency and Online DVD Rentals," Harvard Business School Working Papers 07-099, Harvard Business School, revised Apr 2008.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ilan Yaniv & Shoham Choshen-Hillel, 2012. "When guessing what another person would say is better than giving your own opinion: Using perspective-taking to improve advice-taking," Discussion Paper Series dp622, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    2. Christine Ohlert & Barbara Weißenberger, 2015. "Beating the base-rate fallacy: an experimental approach on the effectiveness of different information presentation formats," Journal of Management Control: Zeitschrift für Planung und Unternehmenssteuerung, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 51-80, April.
    3. Basel, Jörn S. & Brühl, Rolf, 2013. "Rationality and dual process models of reasoning in managerial cognition and decision making," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 745-754.
    4. James D. Hess & Arnold C. Bacigalupo, 2013. "Applying Emotional Intelligence Skills to Leadership and Decision Making in Non-Profit Organizations," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(4), pages 1-19, November.

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