Decision Making with Inaccurate, Unreliable Data

John M. Mezias and William H. Starbuck

in The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Decision Making

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780199290468
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

 Decision Making with Inaccurate, Unreliable Data

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Business Strategy


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This article reviews some evidence that decision makers often rely on inaccurate or unreliable data. The article also points out ways decision makers react when they realize their data are inaccurate or unreliable. Lastly, it examines some options for coping more effectively with inaccurate, unreliable data. Business and political journalists generally interview people who have participated in decision making. The participants explain their goals, situations faced, and the logic behind their decisions. Likewise, research about decision making and sensemaking usually assumes managers are aware of and understand their organizations and their organizations' environments. Some studies obtain almost all of their data about decision inputs and premises from the decision makers. Other studies correlate data about firms' actions with managers' perceptions of their organizations or business environments. However, almost no research has examined the accuracy of such perceptions.

Keywords: unreliable data; decision making; sensemaking; managers' perceptions; business environments; inaccurate data

Article.  9050 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Business Strategy

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