Group Decision and Negotiation

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 801–821 | Cite as

Individual Decision-Making in Organizations: Contribution of Uncertainty and Controversy in China

  • Dean Tjosvold
  • Ann Chunyan Peng
  • Nancy Yifeng ChenEmail author
  • Sofia Su Fang


Uncertainty has been thought to challenge the cognitive capabilities of managers and thereby undermine their decision-making abilities. However, managers who experience uncertainty in that they are unsure of the adequacy of their own position may open-mindedly consult with their colleagues in the organization before they make the decision. A sample of 122 Chinese mainland managers described and rated a critical incident when they tried to make a decision. Regression analyses indicated that to the extent that managers initially felt uncertain about the solution they engaged in constructive controversy, i.e. the open-minded discussion for mutual benefit, which, in turn, led to effective decision-making. Cooperative goals further moderated the association of uncertainty with cooperative goals such that the positive association was stronger with less cooperative goals. These results underline the positive role of uncertainty in solving difficult problems, especially under competitive goals.


Uncertainty Decision making Goal independence Constructive controversy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dean Tjosvold
    • 1
  • Ann Chunyan Peng
    • 2
  • Nancy Yifeng Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sofia Su Fang
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ManagementLingnan UniversityTuen MunHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of ManagementMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Department of FinanceShanghai University of Finance and EconomicsShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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