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2.2 Symbols within business

How have academics and managers attempted to diagnose these largely hidden aspects of business? One well-known example is provided by Trice and Beyer (1984), who concentrated on the idea of there being symbols within a business. They divided these into, first, high-level symbols, which are the more obvious ones such as company buildings and logos, and, second, low-level symbols. They suggested four categories of low-level symbols: practices, communications, physical forms and a common languag
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2.1 Culture as socialisation

The cultural perspective has become popular in business studies because it offers a way of explaining performance and understanding difference. It is only one way of analysing business, but it is an interesting one as it focuses particularly on the insider point of view, or on what it is ‘really’ like to work in an organisation. There have been many definitions of organisational culture. One definition that is often cited is:


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1 What does ‘life sciences’ mean?

During the twentieth century, particularly in its second half, the provision of human healthcare changed significantly because of scientific and technological developments. Before then, medical practice was limited and scarcely differentiated from other trades; in fact, barbers often acted as surgeons or dentists. Throughout the 1900s, there were major advances in most countries in sanitation, nutrition, vaccination, surgery, medicines and medical devices. At the same time, there was an incre
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Conclusion

We hope this course has set you thinking about how you and others make decisions. It has been a very brief and to some extent shallow introduction to some quite complex ideas. The reference list should give you some pointers to further resources which will help you explore this topic in greater depth.


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7.5 Becoming an institutional entrepreneur

While acting in ways that are seen to be legitimate is important for both individuals and organisations, social institutions are not immutable. Some people and organisations seem to have a talent for changing the rules of the game.

Some writers have referred to this as being an institutional entrepreneur. At the organisational level examples might include organisations such as Microsoft or Sun Microsystems working actively to establish industry standards which favour them. At the
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6.1 Introduction

An important aspect of decision making which crosses all three perspectives is making decisions about risks. Risk is all-pervasive in organisational life and many decisions require us to weigh up and choose between different kinds of risk. Thus any account of decision making would be incomplete without examining how our perceptions of risk affect our decisions. In this section we will examine risk from the three different perspectives we have identified: rational-economic, psychological and s
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5.6 A way of dealing with social pressures: decoupling

Organisations often deal with these social pressures by decoupling responses to these different pressures. The need to appear legitimate in the eyes of important constituencies is met by actions and practices which have a purely ceremonial character: they are done for the sake of appearances and not with any real engagement. The example in Author(s): The Open University

5.5.3 Normative pressures

Normative pressures concern what we think we ‘should’ do. They concern our values and the broader social values to which we subscribe. Some organisations make explicit attempts to foster particular kinds of value (for example, in relation to customer service), but normative pressures also come from outside the organisation, such as from a particular professional or religious affiliation.

Institutional pressures are important for both private and public-sector organisations.
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4.5 Deciding: problems of judgement

We are constantly bombarded by information. Simply walking though a room risks flooding us with more sensory information that we can possibly process. Stop for a moment and consider all the different things you can see, hear, smell, or feel.

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4.2 Bounded rationality and the use of heuristics

As decision makers, none of us has infinite resources or time to devote to gathering and analysing information. In addition, we all have significant limitations to the amount of complexity we can cope with. Thus, even where we make conscious efforts to make decisions according to a formally rational process, we often need to make simplifying assumptions and accept limits on the availability of information and the thoroughness of our analysis.

As noted above, we constantly use heuristics
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3.3 Limitations of the rational-economic perspective

As an approach to understanding economic life, the assumption of formal rationality has been very successful. For example, there is great deal of evidence that, on average, prices in financial markets behave as if investors were formally rational. However, there is also a great deal of evidence that individuals do not behave in this way (e.g. de Bondt, 1998). Even within the field of financial economics, there is increasing interest in developing theories of market behaviour which take better
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3.2 Utility theory

Utility theory is based on this assumption of rationality and describes all decision outcomes (financial and otherwise) in terms of the utility (or value) placed on them by individuals. Within this framework, decisions can be understood in terms of rationally ordered levels of utility attached to different outcomes.

Bazerman (2001, pp.3–4), for example, describes a formally rational decision process for arriving at a decision with the greatest expected utility in the following terms:<
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3.1 Introduction

Much of economics and finance theory rests on the notion of people as formally rational decision makers. First, people are understood to have ordered preferences. That is, if someone prefers A to B and prefers B to C then they should prefer A to C. Second, decision makers are assumed to engage in a formally rational decision-making process on the basis of those preferences.

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Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • have greater insight into decision-making processes

  • use that insight to make more effective decisions

  • possess a range of different perspectives on what counts as an ‘effective’ decision

  • be better equipped to understand and influence the decision-making processes of other individuals and groups

  • understand better how people perceive and decide about risk.


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8 Satisfying the client and end user

Most projects have an identifiable client or customer group which will benefit from or use the outcome of the project. The client may be external to the organisation which is implementing the project, for example, the customer for whom a new building is being constructed. Or the clients may be internal, for example, the users of a new IT system. As we have already seen, it is important that the client or end user shares and endorses the project's objectives and is actively involved in its dev
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4.2 Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a project team

Those involved in a project may have skills that fulfil more than one aspect of the project agenda. This is likely to be particularly important in small-scale projects, where management of the content, process and control agendas are just as important to the project's success, but where fewer people are involved.

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4.1 Introduction

Some projects, especially large-scale ones, will rely on a team, not just an individual, for their successful implementation. Unlike permanent work teams, a project team's objective is the achievement of a finite and specific task – the project. Its performance, especially its ability to perform effectively as a group, is therefore critical to a project's outcome. However, it may prove relatively difficult for a project team to work well together at the outset, since its members are often d
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1 Why people management matters to the successful delivery of projects

The importance of budget, time and quality to the success of projects means that they are often managed as technical systems rather than behavioural systems. Yet mismanagement of the ‘people’ aspects of projects is as likely to contribute to their failure as neglect of the ‘hard’ dimensions of project management. This is because the successful implementation of any kind of project requires the effective deployment of human as well as material resources. Indeed, without people, no proj
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Acknowledgements

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

The material acknowledged below is Proprietary and used under licence (not subject to Creativ
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References

Porter, M. E. (1990) The Competitive Advantage of Nations, New York, The Free Press.
Postman, N. (1998) ‘New technology keeps whizzing into our lives’, The Guardian, 5 December (The Editor, pp. 12–13).

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