Decision theory as practice: Crafting rationality in organizations

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Cabantous, L. ; Gond, J-P. ; Johnson-Cramer, M. (2010)

This paper explores the underlying practices whereby rationality - as defined in rational choice theory - is achieved within organizations. The qualitative coding of 58 case study reports produced by decision analysts, working in a wide range of settings, highlights how organizational actors can make decisions in accord with the axioms of rational choice theory. Our findings describe the emergence of 'decision-analysis' as a field and reveal the complex and fragile socio-technical infrastructure underlying the craft of rationality, the central role of calculability, and the various forms of bricolage that decision analysts deploy to make rational decisions happen. Overall, this research explores the social construction of rationality and identifies the practices sustaining the performativity of rational choice theory within organizations.
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