Anne Smith on Resources for Teaching Decision Making

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JME_72ppiRGB_powerpoint[Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to welcome Anne Smith, who collaborated with Cheryl Barksdaleon on the review entitled “Decisions, Decisions . . . Resources and Tools for Complex Decision Making.” Dr. Smith kindly provided us with some background on the article, which appeared in the December issue of Journal of Management Education.]

Our article in Journal of Management Education is a teaching resource article that emerged from a required course for Management majors at the University of Tennessee. In putting together this course four years ago, we were stunned at how few business schools have courses on decision making — despite this activity comprising a substantial part of a manager’s life! In this course we cover individual decision making, decision making in teams, and complex decision making. We include decision making of presidents — including LBJ and the Vietnam War, Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, George Bush’s Decision Points books, and a Vanity Fair article by Michael Lewis that includes elements of President Obama’s decision making.

The focus of this article, however, is on decision making resources, specifically explained in the book “Smart Choices” (Hammond, Keeney, & Raiffa, 1999), and supplemented by a free online resource called Smart-Swaps. We have found that undergraduate students have no problem understanding a structured decision making approach and also putting this approach into action in their own life and application in business cases. It is exciting for us to see the proverbial light bulb go off in a student’s head when he or she masters a decision making tool and see the relevance to major life decisions such as which position to select or even more mundane decisions such as which mattress to purchase.

Cheryl and I continue to tinker with and modify this course. We are more than willing to share our syllabus and how we use this Smart Choices book and the smart swaps tool in particular with interested academics.

“Decisions, Decisions . . . Resources and Tools for Complex Decision Making” from Journal of Management Education can be read for free by clicking here. You can have research and resource reviews like this sent directly to your inbox! Just click here to sign up for e-alerts from Journal of Management Education!

Barksdale-medCheryl Barksdale is the director of Leadership Development Assessments for executive MBA programs in UT’s Graduate and Executive Education group. She is also a lecturer for UT’s Department of Management, where she teaches various leadership and human resource management courses. Her areas of interest are leadership and leadership development, employee selection, experiential learning, performance management, and individual differences in the workplace.

smith-anne-medAnne Smith is a Professor of Management and the Flaskerud Professor in Business at the College of Business, University of Tennessee Knoxville. She is an Associate Editor of Organizational Research Methods and on the five year leadership track of the Strategizing Activities and Practices Interest Group. Her research focuses on strategy and organizational processes and middle managers using qualitative methodologies, including visual methods.

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