The University of Southampton
Courses

MANG2069 Making Successful Decisions

Module Overview

This module considers the generic aspects of decision processes that take place at individual and organisational levels and demonstrates how various lines of enquiry and analytical techniques can help achieve better quality decisions. It draws sharp attention to the central, yet often neglected, role that judgment and decision making play in determining fortune or failure in all areas of our professional and personal lives. To this end, students are exposed to a range of theoretical perspectives, research findings and historical examples that highlight the limitations and shortcomings of many commonly used approaches to decision making. Students will then learn how to utilise a range of qualitative and quantitative analytical methods to help them better understand and make decisions. They will practice thinking critically about the strengths and weaknesses of these methods in order to develop the ability to select the most appropriate decision analysis technique(s) for each situation. The module, therefore, provides students with (i) a deep appreciation of how decision processes impact on the ability of individuals and organisations to effectively achieve objectives (ii) comprehensive knowledge of the limitations and biases inherent in human judgment and (iii) the ability to select and apply a range of decision making tools and techniques based on a critical understanding of the extent to which such approaches can facilitate successful decision making.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the difficulties inherent in making good quality decisions and with knowledge of how to improve decision-making by thinking critically about the nature of decision processes and by applying appropriate supporting analysis.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The limitations and biases inherent in many judgment and decision making processes
  • Decision analysis techniques and the circumstances under which each technique is best applied
  • The relative strengths of various decision making processes and decision analysis techniques
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify when and how cognitive limitations and biases can have a detrimental influence on judgments and decisions
  • Use prescriptive and descriptive theories to understand and analyse judgments and decisions
  • Apply and critically evaluate decision-making models and decision analysis techniques
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify the limitations to and consequences of commonly used approaches to decision making and problem solving
  • Use a range of approaches to critically analyse and evaluate theoretical perspectives and research evidence
  • Use frameworks and analytical techniques to better understand simple and complex problems and to identify effective solutions

Syllabus

The module syllabus is organised into two parts: Part 1: Decision Processes This part of the module examines the general nature and structure of decision making processes, explores commonly used decision strategies, and identifies some of the key factors that underlie systematic judgmental biases and poor decision making. The material covered in this part is largely drawn from the disciplines of cognitive psychology, social psychology and behavioural economics. Emphasis is placed on critical comparisons between different theories/findings and on the potential of decisions to have far-reaching consequences in and beyond the context in which they are made. The subjects covered in Part 1 are: - An Introduction to Decision Making Processes - Decision Making and the Classical Decision Making Model - Probability Judgment and Heuristics - Information Processing and Bounded Awareness - Utility and Prospect Theory - Mental Accounting - Choice Architecture - Emotions, Ethics and Honesty in Decision Making - Group Decision Making Processes Part 2: Decision Analysis This part reviews and applies many key concepts and techniques from the discipline of decision analysis. These techniques can aid decision making under risk and uncertainty and overcome the challenges of decision complexity. The material covered in this part is largely drawn from the disciplines of operational research, economics and decision analysis. Emphasis is placed on understanding the conditions under which specific techniques are most appropriate and on thinking critically about the relative merits of each approach for the given context. The subjects covered in Part 2 are: - Decision Making Under Risk and Uncertainty - Decision Trees - The Value of Information and Bayes Theorem - Competitive Decision Making - Cooperative Decision Making - Multi-Attribute Decisions - Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis - Attitudes to Risk and Risk Efficient Choices

Special Features

External speakers will deliver guest lecture slots, where possible.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Lectures - Classes - Problem-solving case studies - Plenary sessions delivered by guest speakers - Independent study - Directed reading Learning activities include : - In lecture exercises - Case study/problem solving activities - In class debate and discussion - Feedback quizzes - Private study - Video and online materials

TypeHours
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Seminar10
Completion of assessment task2
Lecture24
Follow-up work20
Wider reading or practice34
Total study time110

Resources & Reading list

Render, B., Stair R.M., Hanna, M.E., & Hale, T.S. (2015). Quantitative Analysis for Management. 

Hardman, D. (2009). Judgment and Decision Making: Psychological Perspectives. 

Heath, C. & Heath, D.. Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work. 

Goodwin, P. & Wright, G. (2014). Decision Analysis for Management Judgment. 

Kahneman, D. (2012). Thinking, Fast and Slow. 

Leading Journals. - Decision - Decision Sciences - Journal of Behavioral Decision Making - Judgment and Decision Making - Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes - Risk Analysis: An International Journal

Ariely, D. (2010). Predictably Irrational. 

Parnell, G. (2013). Wiley Handbooks in Operations Research and Management Science: Handbook of Decision Analysis. 

Bazerman, M. and Moore, D. (2013). Judgement in Managerial Decision Making. 

Assessment

Formative

Lectures and Seminars

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Costs

Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Textbooks

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the core/ recommended text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

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