Decision-making in groups under uncertainty

Juliane Marold, Ruth Wagner, Markus Schöbel and Dietrich Manzey
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The authors have studied daily decision-making processes in groups under uncertainty, with an exploratory field study in the medical domain. The work follows the tradition of naturalistic decision-making (NDM) research. It aims to understand how groups in this high reliability context conceptualize and internalize uncertainties, and how they handle them in order to achieve effective decision-making in their everyday activities.

Analysis of the survey data shows that uncertainty is thought of in terms of issues and sources (as identified by previous research), but also (possibly a domain-specific observation) as a lack of personal knowledge or skill. Uncertainty is accompanied by emotions of fear and shame. It arises during the diagnostic process, the treatment process and the outcome of medical decision-making. The most frequently cited sources of uncertainty a repartly lacking information and inadequate understanding owing to instability of information. Descriptions of typical group decisions reveal that the individual himself is a source of uncertainty when a lack of knowledge, skills and expertise is perceived. The group can serve as a source of uncertainty if divergent opinions in the decision-making group exist.

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Decision-making in groups under uncertainty Decision-making in groups under uncertainty