INF 2149 Administrative Decision Making in Information Organizations
Instructor: Chun Wei Choo
The study of decision making in organizations has a long, active tradition and many researchers contend that analyzing decision making processes is the key to understanding how organizations function. Yet the research on organizational decision making has yielded apparently contradictory analytical frameworks, from models that depict decision making as rational and sequential to models that describe decision making as random and anarchical. This course integrates these perspectives in a contingency view of organizational decision making as a social activity that varies its form and content depending on the nature of the problem, context of the organization, cognitive traits of individuals, the availability of information, and other factors.
The purpose of this course is to introduce major models that have been developed to understand, analyze, and manage decision making processes in information organizations. These frameworks are based on research in organization theory, social psychology, and information needs and uses studies.
Course Learning OutcomesAt the end of this course, students should be able to:
- Understand and evaluate major modes of organizational decision making and the role of information seeking and use in each mode
- Identify and address information challenges and pitfalls that organizations face in decision making
- Apply their understanding of organizational decision making to improve information services, systems and practices
- Apply theoretical models of organizational decision making to analyze and assess the effectiveness of actual cases or episodes of decision making.
Relationship to MI Program Learning Outcomes
This course helps students to understand and be conversant with the concepts that explain decision making as an information-intensive activity of all organizations (Program Outcome 1). The knowledge and values imparted in the course enable students to exercise leadership and care in the design and provision of information services (Program Outcome 2). Through their case analysis projects, students learn to apply and critique theoretical models of decision making in relation to actual organizational experiences (Program Outcome 3). Finally, students gain a theoretical understanding of how information seeking and use affects decision making (Program Outcome 4).
The treatment of organizational decision making in this course is summarized in:
Choo, Chun Wei. 2006. The Knowing Organization: How Organizations Use Information to Construct Meaning, Create Knowledge, and Make Decisions. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. Full text available from Oxford Scholarship Online. Much of the argument is laid out in Chapter 1 and 5.
Other useful texts are:
- Simon, Herbert A.. 1997. Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Administrative Organizations. (4th ed.) New York, NY: Free Press.
- March, James G. 1994. A Primer on Decision Making: How Decisions Happen. New York, NY: Free Press.
- Heath, Chip and Dan Heath. 2013. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. New York: Random House.
There are two assignments.
The first assignment requires the student to write an essay on a relevant topic in organizational decision making. For suggested topics please see the assignment page. Students may also choose their topic which must be approved by the instructor. [40%]
The second assignment requires students to work in groups of three to prepare a presentation of an actual case of decision making in an organization. The instructor may recommend suitable cases for analysis, but students are encouraged to select their own cases, based on their own experience or reading. [40%]
Students should prepare for each class by reviewing suggested cases and readings so that they come prepared to discuss them during class. [20%]
Students should feel free to discuss course-related matters with the instructor at any time. Chun Wei's office is Room 628; telephone 416.978.5266; e-mail . Office hours TBA.
Course Website and Wiki
Course descriptions, schedules, reading list, slides, and the course wiki may be accessed from http://uoft.me/INF2149.
Academic integrityPlease consult the University's site on Academic Integrity. The iSchool has a zero-tolerance policy on plagiarism as defined in section B.I. 1. (d) of the University's Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. You should acquaint yourself with the Code and Appendix A Section 2. Please review the material you covered in the Cite it Right workshop and consult the site How Not to Plagiarize.
Cite it Right covers relevant parts of the U of T Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. It is expected that all iSchool students take the Cite it Right workshop and the online quiz. Completion of the online Cite It Right quiz should be made prior to the second week of classes. To review and complete the workshop, go to the Inforum Orientation Workshops site.
Accommodation of students with disabilitiesStudents with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability or health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or the Accessibility Services Office as soon as possible. The Accessibility Services staff are available by appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations. The sooner you let them and me know your needs, the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course.
Writing supportThe Graduate Centre for Academic Communication provides graduate students with advanced training in academic writing and speaking. The services are designed to target the needs of both native and non-native speakers of English and include courses, workshops, individual writing consultations, and online resources. Please feel free to avail yourself of these free services.
GradingPlease consult the iSchool's official interpretation of letter grades and the University's policy on Graduate Grading and Evaluation Practices. These will form the basis for grading in the course.