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Individual decision-making in organizations : contribution of uncertainty and controversy in China
Group Decision and Negotiation
  • Dean William TJOSVOLD, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
  • Ann Chunyan PENG, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
  • Nancy Yifeng CHEN, Lingnan University
  • Sofia Su FANG, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Shanghai
Document Type
Journal article
Publication Date
Springer Netherlands
  • Uncertainty,
  • Decision making,
  • Goal independence,
  • Constructive controversy

Uncertainty has been thought to challenge the cognitive capabilities of managers and thereby undermine their decision-making abilities. However, managers who experience uncertainty in that they are unsure of the adequacy of their own position may open-mindedly consult with their colleagues in the organization before they make the decision. A sample of 122 Chinese mainland managers described and rated a critical incident when they tried to make a decision. Regression analyses indicated that to the extent that managers initially felt uncertain about the solution they engaged in constructive controversy, i.e. the open-minded discussion for mutual benefit, which, in turn, led to effective decision-making. Cooperative goals further moderated the association of uncertainty with cooperative goals such that the positive association was stronger with less cooperative goals. These results underline the positive role of uncertainty in solving difficult problems, especially under competitive goals.

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Copyright © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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Citation Information
Tjosvold, D., Peng, A. C., Chen, N. Y., & Fang, S. S. (2013). Individual decision-making in organizations: Contribution of uncertainty and controversy in China. Group Decision and Negotiation, 22(4), 801-821. doi: 10.1007/s10726-012-9294-6