Skip to main content
Contribution to Book
Teaching Decision Making
The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Decision Making (2008)
  • Gerald F. Smith, University of Northern Iowa
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.
  • normative argument,
  • rational choice,
  • decision practices,
  • legitimacy,
  • empirical research,
  • teaching of decision making,
  • organizational choice
Publication Date
March 6, 2008
Citation Information
Gerald F. Smith. "Teaching Decision Making" The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Decision Making (2008)
Available at: