Rowe & Boulgarides - Decision Style Theory

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

Rowe and Boulgarides (1992) offer a perception-driven theory of decision-making style. Our manner of perceiving and understanding stimuli, on their view, structures our construal of the significance of events. This largely determines how we will respond in decision-making situations.

The dimensions of variance in this decision style theory are cognitive complexity (ambiguity tolerance vs. need for structure) and value orientation (social/human vs. instrumental/task-centered). Crossing these dimensions yields four decision making styles: (1) directive (2) analytical, (3) conceptual, and (4) behavioral, described below in PAEI order.

P - Directive (Low ambiguity tolerance, Task focus): Directive individuals need and value structure. They prefer to make decisions based on clear, undisputed facts and impersonal rules and procedures. They trust their own senses and short, focused reports from others.

A - Analytical (High ambiguity tolerance, Task focus): Analytically minded people can process ambiguity given enough time and information. They rely heavily on abstractions and instrumental logic, and tend to go over all aspects of a problem with a fine-toothed comb, carefully acquiring and organizing large amounts of data. They consider every aspect of a given problem, acquiring information by careful analysis. When presented, their solutions are comprehensive, detailed and very thorough. They may also be innovative if the analysis turned up novel information or supported novel reasoning.

E - Conceptual (High ambiguity tolerance, Social focus): Conceptual decision makers are creative, exploratory, interested in novelty and comfortable taking risks. They are big-picture, creative thinkers who like to consider many different options and possibilities. They gather and evaluate information from many different perspectives, integrating diverse cues and passing intuitive judgments as they work to identify emerging patterns.

I - Behavioral (Low ambiguity tolerance, Social focus): Behavioral decision-makers focus on the feelings and welfare of group members and other social aspects of work. They look to others for information, both explicit information in what others say and implicit information sensed during interactions with them. They evaluate information emotionally and intuitively.

1. Rowe, A. J., & Boulgarides, J. D. (1992). Managerial Decision Making. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
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