Decision-making & Managing Conflict

Return to chapter video

Click on the links below to learn more


Decision-making Styles

Generally people differ in their approach to making decisions, we can term this their decision making style. "One perspective of decision making styles proposes that people differ along two dimensions in the way they approach decision making. The first is an individual's way of thinking. Some people tend to be rational and logical in the way they think or process information. A rational type looks at information in order and makes sure it's logical and consistent before making a decision. Others tend to be creative and intuitive. Intuitive types do not have to process information in a certain order but are comfortable looking at it as a whole.Decision-making Styles

The other dimension describes an individual's tolerance for ambiguity. Again, some people have a low tolerance for ambiguity. These types must have consistency and order in the way they structure information so that ambiguity is minimised. On the other hand, some people can tolerate high levels of ambiguity and are able to process many thoughts at the same time. When we diagram these two dimensions, four decision-making styles are evident: directive, analytic, conceptual and behavioural."[1]

Directive Style: A person has this style if they have a low tolerance for ambiguity and are efficient, rational, and logical in their way of thinking. They focus on the short term and are quick to make decisions, usually resulting in a decision that has been made with minimal information and not carefully analysing other alternatives.

Analytic Style: As opposed to the directive style, a person with an analytic decision-making style has greater tolerance to ambiguity. They are careful decision makers that like to be well informed and thoroughly assess their options. They usually have the ability to adapt or cope with unique and challenging situations.

Conceptual Style: Conceptual decision makers are generally very broad in their approach and consider all available alternatives. They are long-term oriented and are usually capable of formulating creative solutions to problems.

Behavioural Style: People with a behavioural decision-making style work well with others, are open to suggestions, and are concerned about the achievements of their team. They generally try to avoid conflict and place importance on their acceptance by others.

A good understanding of the various styles of decision-making each will allow you to recognise your own style and adapt accordingly to each situation.


[1] Robbins, S, Bergman, R, Stagg, I & Coulter, M, 2006, Foundations of Management 2nd edn, pp 204-205, Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest