Faculty Publications

Teaching Decision Making

Document Type



Decision practices, Empirical research, Legitimacy, Normative argument, Organizational choice, Rational choice, Teaching of decision making

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Decision Making


Management educators base their efforts to teach decision making on two arguments: normative and descriptive. The normative argument holds that there are universal principles of rational choice underlying formal methods managers can learn and apply. Its descriptive counterpart contends that empirical research has identified effective and ineffective decision practices managers can learn to emulate or avoid. Though each approach has legitimacy, there are serious limitations. Normative rules are often not useful in practice since they pass the problems by, leave key challenges unaddressed. The descriptive strategy has an overabundance of material that could be taught. While there are many plausible accounts of decision making, researchers have not identified a useful, empirically validated "right way" of making choices. This article provides an account of the teaching of decision making that highlights the educational implications of alternative views of organizational choice.


Department of Management

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version