Participative decision making

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Participative Decision-Making (PDM) is the way an organization decides to make decisions. The leader must think of the best possible style that will allow the organization to come up with the best results. When the leader involves participants, it is shown to improve job satisfaction. Synergy is important in decisions because it is the ability for people to work together and produce results that can exceed decision making made by an individual(Papa).According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, workers need to feel a sense of belongingness to an organization. (See Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs) When everyone in an organization participates in the decision-making process, organizational communication is much more effective and everyone produces efficient results(Walker 2007).



[edit]Disadvantages of Particpative Decision-Making

When participative decision-making takes place in a team setting, it can cause many disadvantages. These can be anything from social pressures to conform and also group domination, where one person takes control of the group and urges everyone to follow their standpoints. With ideas coming from many people, time can be an issue. The meeting might end and good ideas go unheard. Negative outcomes of PDM are: high costs, inefficiency, and incompetence (Debruin 2007).

[edit]Decision-making through computer-mediated technology

A new kind of participative decision-making is communication through the computer. Although a relatively new approach, this way can involve endless possibilities in order to reach a major organizational decision. There is a huge increase in more active and equal member participation. Individuals can talk to many other individuals at any time, regardless of geographic location and time zone. An organization can come together on a virtual site developed to make it easier to share emails, share presentations and even have a chat room where anyone can add their input. Through a chat room, members of the organizations are able to see what everyone says and no one is blocked from saying their ideas. There is also now a record of past archives of what was said (Berry 2002).

Some disadvantages of a computer-mediated meeting is that sometimes feedback can be slow. Also, there can be many conversations under way at the same time and it might cause confusion. Flaming is also known as a computer-mediated problem and is when a person uses inappropriate behavior or language. Members also feel less personal and relational to their team members (Berry 2002).

[edit]Vigilant Interaction Theory

According to Papa et al., the vigilant interaction theory is a theory that states the quality of the group in a decision-making team, is dependent on the group's attentiveness during interaction. Critical thinking is important for all group members in order to come up with the best possible solution to the decision. Four questions that should be asked:

1. Analyze the problem- What needs to be fixed?

2. Think of objectives- What are we trying to accomplish with this decision.

3. Discuss choices- Think of possible choices that can be used.

4. Evaluate- After coming up with choices, think of all the positive and negative aspects of each.

[edit]Kinds of Participative Decision-Making

In organizations, when coming together to make decisions there are many different types. They are: Collective PDM, Democratic PDM, Autocratic PDM, andConsensus PDM. A PDM style includes any type of decision transfer from a superior to their subordinates (Sager 1999).


In a collective participative decision-making style, the members of the organization have some say of the decision process. This is the most common type used by organizations and is proven to be very effective. Although employees are asked for their opinions, the leader alone makes the final decision and has all control of how the decision will pan out, and takes full responsibility of all the consequences (Connor 2003).


In a democratic participative decision-making style, the leader gives up complete ownership of the decision and lets employees vote. The majority of the votes will win. This causes a fast and effective decision to be made. Although the team might reach a fast decision, no one takes responsibility for the decision and if something goes wrong, an employee can simply state that they did not vote for it.


In an autocratic participative decision-making style, like the collective style, the leader takes control and responsibility of the final decision. The difference is that in an autocratic style, members of the organizations are not included and the final outcome is all on the leader. This is the best style to use in an emergency when an immediate decision is needed.


In a consensus participative decision-making style, the leader gives up complete control and responsibility of the decision and leaves it to the members of the organization. Everyone must agree and come to the same decision. This might take a while, but the decisions made are usually the best since it involves the ideas and skills of many other people. Team work is important in this style and brings members closer together while trust and communication increase.

[edit]Making Decisions Based on Information

To make a good decision, there needs to be a good amount of information that you are basing the outcome from. Information can include anything from charts, surveys, past sales reports, to prior research. When making a decision primarily based from the information you are given from your organization, you can come to a conclusion in four different ways.

Decisive - Little amount of information and one course of action. Decisions are made fast, direct, and firmly.

Flexible - Little information available, but time is not an issue and they come up with many different courses of action.

Hierarchic - Much information available, but one course of action is made.

Integrative - Much information is available, and many decisions are made out of it.

[edit]Decision-Making Stages

Developed by B. Aubrey Fisher, there are four stages that should be involved in all group decision making. These stages, or sometimes called phases, is important for the decision-making process to begin(Papa).

Orientation stage- This phase is where members meet for the first time and start to get to know each other.

Conflict stage- Once group members become familiar with each other, disputes, little fights and arguments occur. Group members eventually work it out.

Emergence stage- The group begins to clear up ambigiuity in opinions is talked about.

Reinforcement stage- Members finally make a decision, while justifying themselves that it was the right decision.

[edit]Decision-Making Steps

When in an organization and faced with a difficult decision, there are several steps one can take to ensure the best possible solutions will be decided. These steps are put into seven effective ways to go about this decision making process (McMahon 2007).

The first step- Outline your goal and outcome. This will able decision makers to see exactly what they are trying to accomplish and keep them on a specific path.

The second step- Gather data. This will help decision makers have actual evidence to help them come up with a solution.

The third step-Brainstorm to develop alternatives. Coming up with more than one solution ables you to see which one can actually work.

The fourth step-List pros and cons of each alternative. With the list of pros and cons, you can eliminate the solutions that have more cons then pros, making your decision easier.

The fifth step - Make the decision. Once you analyze each solution, you should pick the one that has many pros, and the one that everyone agrees with.

The sixth step-Immediately take action. Once the decision is picked, you should implement it right away.

The seventh step - Learn from, and reflect on the decision making. This step allows you to see what you did right and wrong when coming up, and putting the decision to use.


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Posted by Jeonghwan Choi

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