Garbage Can Theory of Decision Making

Organizational Behavior November 17, 2011 Professor: Arlene McConville Module 6 Journal Entry 1 Decision-Making Process The theory of the garbage can model as a decision making vehicle according to the original authors is based upon the assumption that “decision opportunities are fundamentally ambiguous stimuli” (Cohen, March & Olsen, 2001). This concept lends itself well to the organized anarchies that are associated with educational institutions where the authors appear to have formed their theory.

They examine concepts such as solutions looking for problems and outcomes being streams of interrelations between problems, Solutions, Participants and Choice opportunities. These concepts are then mapped to a simulation model using a set of processing assumptions based on a set of variables to create a mathematical model. The garbage can concept comes from all these streams of input going into the decision process at different times and seeing what sticks to what at any given time.

Hence the decision process is the garbage can and the input going into that process is the garbage. In my personal experience I can see this model come into play when politics are involved. I have worked in the Information Technology field for thirty plus years and can unequivocally state that in the case of technical problems a rational process must be and is used to arrive at a solution or a set of solutions. The Garbage Can theory becomes a factor when you present the various technical solutions to leadership for a decision on which of the proposed solutions to implement.

Depending upon which person or persons really understands the problem/solution, when that person or persons choose to look into the problem, where they sit in the command structure, and how important the problem appears to them at the time is how that decision will be arrived at. This is usually not the best decision from a technical standpoint but the one we have to live with. References Cohen, M. , March, J. , & Olsen, J. (2001)

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