Decision Modes in Complex Task Environments: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Decision Modes in Complex Task Environments

1st Edition

By Norbert Steigenberger, Thomas Lübcke, Heather Fiala, Alina Riebschläger

CRC Press

168 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138748460
pub: 2017-05-30
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pub: 2017-05-30
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Despite intense research on decision-making in action, we still know little about when decision-makers rely on deliberate vs. intuitive decision-making in decision situations under complexity and uncertainty. Building on default-interventionist dual-processing theory, this book studies decision-making modes (deliberate vs. intuitive) in complex task environments contingent on perceived complexity, experience, and decision style preference. We find that relatively inexperienced decision-makers respond to increases in subjective complexity with an increase in deliberation and tend to follow their decision style preference. Experienced decision-makers are less guided by their decision preference and respond to increases in subjective complexity only minimally. This book contributes to a developing stream of research linking decision-making with intra-personal and environmental properties and fosters our understanding of the conditions under which decision-makers rely on intuitive vs. deliberate decision modes. In doing so, we go one step further towards a comprehensive theory of decision-making in action.


"This is a very insightful book on an important topic. The topics are well introduced in an easy-to-understand language, with adequate depth to both novices and experts in the field. I really like the Key Insights provided at the end of the chapters, as those are useful for easy reference. The text boxes inserted in the main text also provide good aids to navigating the book. The extensive reference lists at the end of the chapters provide good support for the contents of the chapters, and are very useful for researchers as a guide for further reading. Other books focus on decision making methods without providing insight and understanding of how decisions are actually made. This book does the opposite."

Floris Goerlandt, Aalto University, Finland

"I consider this book as a valuable extension of the scientific and practical implementation of Standard Operational Proceedings (SOP), Bridges Resource Management, (BRM) and Human Factors issues, as it is focusing the human action, and the understanding of decision-making in a complex and stressful situation."

Thore Hagman, International Director Swedish Sea Rescue Society, Sweden

Table of Contents

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Why decision mode matters

1.1 Two deaths on Christmas Eve

1.2 Logic and structure of this book

1.3 Defining the field: decisions in complex task environments

Chapter 2: Perspectives on decision-making in complex task environments - what we do and do not know

2.1 A brief history of the scholarly debate on decision-making in complex environments

2.2 Two types of information processing and a continuum of modes

2.3 Intuition

2.3.1 What is intuition?

2.3.2 Intuition as a problem or an asset

2.3.3 The role of experience in intuitive decision-making

2.3.4 The role of task structure in intuitive decision-making

2.4. Deliberation

2.4.1 What is deliberation?

2.4.2 Deliberation as a problem or an asset

2.4.3 The role of experience in deliberate decision-making

2.4.4 The role of task structure in deliberate decision-making

2.5 Which decision modes do decision-makers use – current state of knowledge

2.6 Summary

Chapter 3: Decision-making in maritime search and rescue

3.1 Socio-economic framework

3.2 The beginnings of an organized maritime rescue service

3.3 Why is maritime SAR a suitable field for decision-making research?

3.4 Research approaches

Chapter 4: How are decisions in complex task environments actually made? Insights from maritime search and rescue 1

4.1 A variety of open questions

4.2 Empirical background – the concepts, studies, and measures

4.3 Results

4.3.1 General distribution of decision modes

4.3.2 Decision mode preference

4.3.3 Subjective situational complexity

4.3.4 Experience

4.3.5 Other variables of interest

4.3.6 Satisfaction with a decision

4.4 Summary and discussion of the survey results

Chapter 5: Working in a complex maritime task environment – case studies

5.1 A local incident coordinator at work – case study on decision-making in large scale live SAR exercises

5.1.1 Introduction

5.1.2 The exercise

5.1.3 Observations

5.1.5 Resume and complementary observations

5.2 Decision-making in the danger zone – working in mass rescue operations

5.2.1 Introduction

5.2.2 Framework

5.2.3 Observations

5.2.4 Resume

5.3 Methodological remarks

Chapter 6: Insights, Learnings, Recommendations and Paths Forward

6.1 Summarizing the key insights

6.1.1 Our understanding of decision-making in complex task environments

6.1.2 Answering the central questions of the book

6.2 When should decision-makers apply intuition and deliberation in complex task environments?

6.3 Developing a decision environment that supports effective decision-making

6.3.1 Recommendations for a decision-making training

6.3.2 Recommendations for organizing complex task environments

6.4 Open questions, limitations, and final words

About the Authors

Dr. Norbert Steigenberger is an Assistant Professor at Jönköping International Business School (Sweden). Previously, he held researcher and guest researcher positions at the University of Cologne (Germany) and Aalto University Helsinki (Finland). He studied Business Economics at the Technical University Freiberg (Germany) and the Universitetet i Tromsø (Norway) and received his doctorate from Chemnitz Technical University in 2011. His research primarily concerns different topics in management and organization, such as decision-making in organizations, mergers & acquisitions and novel forms of digital business.

Thomas Lübcke is Head of Research and Development at the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS). He studied Sociology and Education at the University of Rostock (M.A.). His current research addresses organizational issues in complex maritime search and rescue operations, transdisciplinary research on human factors in safety critical domains as well as in the simulation and training of inter-organizational working contexts. As an active member, he is also involved in the platform "People in Complex Work Environments".

Dr. Heather M. Fiala is a professional staff member of the Center for Controlling & Management at the Institute of Management Accounting and Control of the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany. She studied Psychology at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, USA (B.A.) and the University of Erfurt (M.Sc.). She completed her PhD in Psychology in 2013 at the University of Erfurt. From 2012 to 2015, she worked as a researcher at the Seminar for Business Administration, Corporate Development, and Organization at the University of Cologne, investigating decision-making in complex task environments.

Alina Riebschläger studied Business Administration at the University of Cologne. From 2013 to 2015, she was a graduate assistant at the Seminar for Business Administration, Corporate Development, and Organization at the University of Cologne supporting a research project concerning decision-making in complex task environments.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety