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Strategic Decision Making Paradigms: A Primer for Senior Leaders

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Research paper

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The goal for the year at the United States Army War College USAWC is to prepare our students to be strategic leaders or to serve as effective advisers to the senior leadership of our military and this Nation. Each decision paradigm presented in this paper provides a method to analyze problems that our USAWC graduates will face as they move into higher levels of command. It is evident that each paradigm has its opportunities and challenges. The advantages and disadvantages will manifest themselves in varying degrees in different contexts. As they sit at the decision making table, our graduates will be able to recognize and be able to analyze the paradigmatic limitations and strengths as they are being discussed in strategy planning. They will also know that while we aspire to be rational in our choices of action, we are limited in our cognitive ability to comprehensively develop and assess alternatives. Additionally, we have innate biases and use heuristics that affect how we process and use information. Since implementing decisions generally requires the involvement of others, it is necessary to include them in the process of identifying key issues and determining potential solutions. The environment and context of the problem should influence the extent of inclusion and collaboration. In such cases, either the bargaining or participative decision making approach may be more appropriate to establish common interests and produce agreement as to what should be done and how. The Kettl and Fesler conclusion that no single approach offers a best solution to all the problems of making decisions captures the central theme to the USAWC perspective on decision making. Having a variety of decision tools in our kitbags helps us identify the appropriate approach to individual problem situations.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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