6.3 The psychology of risk

Within the psychological paradigm there is a different starting point for understanding risk. In financial economic accounts, risk is generally regarded as a combination of the expected magnitude of loss or gain and the variability of that expected outcome. Human perception of risk works rather differently. There are two other important components of risk that influence our perceptions: the fear factor – how much we dread the potential outcome – and the control factor
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6.2 A rational-economic perspective on risk

A rational-economic perspective generally represents risk as a combination of the expected magnitude of a gain or loss, combined with some probability distribution of anticipated outcomes. Economic ideas of risk behaviour are founded largely on expected utility theory. Expected utility theory predicts that investors will always be risk averse. The shape of the utility curve (utility plotted against increasing wealth) is such that utility increases with wealth, but at a declining rate. This is
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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

5.5.1 Coercive pressures

Coercive pressures come from the social sanctions that can be applied if we do not act in socially legitimate ways. The law is one source of coercive pressure, but so too is the knowledge that you will get promoted only if you act in ways which fit accepted ways of doing things in your organisation.


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5.5 Social pressures which affect our decision making

Broadly, there are three kinds of social pressure which affect how we make decisions:

  • coercive

  • mimetic

  • normative.

We look at these in more detail below.


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4.1 Introduction

A psychological perspective does not start from the assumption that people are fundamentally irrational. Rather, it emphasises a different logic: a logic that meets the challenges we have evolved to face (Calne, 1999). For much of our evolution we have faced an environment with major differences from the modern business world. We have developed a range of cognitive mechanisms to cope with adverse environments in which resources are scarce. These include a range of simplifying and confidence-s
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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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2.2 Different approaches to decision making

Activity 2

Think of a major decision you have recently been involved in making at work. For each of the following statements about your decision-making process make a note of the number which shows your level of agreement with the stat
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Introduction

This unit covers a few key topics that will help you to think in broad ways about how you and others take decisions; we shall also introduce you to some themes in social science which have direct relevance to managerial decision making. The approach of this unit is descriptive: rather than prescribing how you should make decisions we look at frameworks that will help you to understand how decisions are actually made. We aim to help you to develop greater insight into both your own deci
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References

Butterfield, J. (1997) ‘Strategy Development’ in Butterfield, L. (ed.) (1997) Excellence in Advertising, Oxford Institute of Practitioners in Advertising/Butterworth Heinemann pp. 65–90.
Economist, The (2001) ‘Rebirth of a salesman’, 14 April 2001, p. 82.
Fill, C. (2002) Marketing Communications: Contexts, Strategies and Applications, 3rd edition, Har
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4 Summary

This section has examined marketing communications’ claims to strategic credentials. Historically there have been several barriers to this – the fragmented nature of development and execution in the absence of strategic co-ordination, rivalries between different communications disciplines, and short-termism in the marketing communications industry itself which has led to communications being seen as a tactical rather than strategic resource.

The traditional hierarchy of strategy has
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1.2 The relationship between stakeholders and the organisation

Public and voluntary sector organisations do not have the same shareholder obligations as those in the private sector. However, as the distinction between public and private sector organisations becomes blurred, there are concerns that the ethical role of public service organisations – defined as acting in the public interest through a public service ethos – is being undermined. As public service and non-profit organisations are increasingly expected to achieve targets and become more ‘
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Introduction

This unit is from our archive and it is an adapted extract from Managing Human Resources (B824) which is no longer in presentation. If you wish to study formally at The Open University, you may wish to explore the courses we offer in this curriculum area.

Strategy is based on the unique relationship between an organisation's distinctive resources and capabilitie
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4 Environmental factors and organisations: review

The primary thrust of this unit has been to emphasise the need for all organisations to acknowledge the influence of their environments and, in turn, the impact of organisations on their context. We have argued that the commercial environment is characterised primarily by the growing trend toward globalisation. To a much greater extent than ever before we live in a global village where goods and services will be produced wherever they can be provided at the least cost. Consumers in the West i
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2.2 Regulatory initiatives

Box 2 Political will

‘We know the solution: sustainable development. The issue is political will.’

Prime Minister Tony Blair, World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, 2 September 2002


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3.8 Following up the report

The evaluation report will often contain recommendations for further actions and these may lead to new project ideas. Recommendations may relate to processes and procedures within the organisation. Project evaluation and debriefing can be a learning experience for the organisation as a whole, as well as for individuals. For example, British Petroleum gathers the lessons learnt from post-project appraisals in a series of booklets that are then used as guidance for writing project proposals. In
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Closure checklists

It is helpful to consider closure as, in effect, a mini-project, and to plan for it as a distinct set of activities. We have seen that, once the project has been recognised as successful and all of the key milestones have been achieved, reaching the final milestone – closing the project – can seem an anticlimax. One way to focus attention on the work that still needs to be done is to prepare a detailed checklist.

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • understand some of the necessary changes that organisations may have to make in order to achieve particular campaigns;

  • give examples of how organisations have changed their campaigns to achieve their goals.


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