Accession Number:



Strategic Decision Making Paradigms: A Primer for Senior Leaders

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:


Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



In the summer of 2005, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, addressed the United States Army War College Distance Education class with his thoughts on Strategic Leadership. Referring to his time as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell commented that, at the apex of the organization, strategic leaders are concerned not only about internal workings of their organizations, but also about external aspects. In addition to making and influencing decisions internal to the Armed Forces, he also emphasized two external factors--assessing and mitigating risk as well as scanning the environment for windows of opportunity to influence decisions at the policy level. Powells comments suggest there are two aspects of decisions at the strategic level of which leaders should be aware. First, there are the decisions made as senior representatives of their organizations. It is therefore important to have models and frameworks that inform how strategic leaders make or should make decisions which directly affect their organizations. These are the internal aspects of strategic decision making. Second, strategic leaders also serve in a milieu that is beyond their authority for making decisions. Leaders must have some sense of how external decisions are made and, importantly, understand the roles they can play in influencing those decisions. Decision-making frameworks for policy levels are important for strategic leaders to appreciate how they can best influence decisions in their external environment. This articles purpose is to present some models or frameworks for understanding how strategic leaders can make decisions as well as recognizing how to influence decisions that affect their organizations or institutions. The following models presented in this article are drawn from the social psychology, organizational behavior, sociology, and public administration literature.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management

Distribution Statement: