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Assumptions in Decision Making Scholarship: Implications for Business Ethics Research

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Abstract

While decision making scholarship in management has specifically addressed the objectivist assumptions within the rational choice model, a similar move within business ethics has only begun to occur. Business ethics scholarship remains primarily based on rational choice assumptions. In this article, we examine the managerial decision making literature in order to illustrate equivocality within the rational choice model. We identify four key assumptions in the decision making literature and illustrate how these assumptions affect decision making theory, research, and practice within the purview of business ethics. Given the breadth of disciplines and approaches within management decision making scholarship, a content analysis of management decision making scholarship produces a greater range of assumptions with finer granularity than similar scholarship within business ethics. By identifying the core assumptions within decision making scholarship, we start a conversation about why, how, and to what effect we make assumptions about decision making in business ethics theory, research, and practice. Examining the range of possible assumptions underlying current scholarship will hopefully clarify the conversation and provide a platform for future business ethics research.

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Notes

  1. While our sampling of decision making literature does not draw on research published in journals explicitly founded to tackle the topic, such as Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, and Decision Sciences, we believe the four journals utilized as a sampling pool suitably represent current thinking on management decision making and pull from books and journals which specialize in decision making. These four journals focus on particular theoretical and methodological perspectives, and we believe that our selection of journals adequately represents those perspectives as well as includes diversity from other perspectives.

  2. While future work may apply a similar methodology to analyze group or organizational analysis, we found that a firm understanding of the individual was a necessary prerequisite to theorizing or researching the group or organization. Therefore, work on top-management-teams, boards of directors, and general groups were not included. In addition, organizational level decisions were not considered in this initial analysis.

  3. The remaining articles were single instances of award winning articles summaries or articles at the industry level.

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Martin, K., Parmar, B. Assumptions in Decision Making Scholarship: Implications for Business Ethics Research. J Bus Ethics 105, 289–306 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-0965-z

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