Week 2

“PM, DM and Decision

Making in Projects”

Dr Ramesh Vahidi r.vahidi@soton.ac.uk

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Southampton Business School

10 Feb 22



Review: Week 1

DM is a Multidisciplinary


Aspects of DM in


Introduction to Module

Introduction to Decision

Making • Decision Science


•Public Policy


•Social Psychology

•Law: Adjudication



A General

Classification of Decisions

Intertwined with our lives

Significance in PM

•Conceptual •Decision makers •Decision Elements •Decision Methods & Processes •Decision Context



Aims of Week 2

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“To provide you with further essential conceptual

backgrounds and some practical examples for

analysing decisions in the context of ‘projects’.”



Learning Outcomes of Week 2

By actively attending the sessions and following up with further background studies

you are expected to develop:

The ability to identify decisions in case study projects.

The ability to breakdown a decision to its main components for analysis.

Discuss when decisions are made in projects and their significance.

Define approaches to decision studies and classify project decisions.

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Decision Analysis & Synthesis

• Observing

• Reflecting

• Learning

• Unlearning

• Improving

• Creating



Concepts of Analysis & Synthesis in General

Synthesis: “the act of combining separate ideas, beliefs, styles, etc.; a mixture or combination of ideas, beliefs, styles, etc.”

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Analysis: “to examine the nature or structure of something, especially by separating it into its parts, in order to understand or explain it”

(Oxford Dictionary, nd)

Situation: Messy, complex, uncertain, challenging, specially for the first time!



Basic ANALYSIS of a Decision: Identifying Decision Components

Ask Yourself

• What did I ultimately want to achieve?

• What courses of action I could/could not take?

• What result(s) did I get by making the decision?

• Why couldn’t I choose whatever I wished for?

• Who else was involved in?

What it means

• This was your GOAL (Objective, Purpose, Aim)

• These were your OPTIONs (Choices, Alternatives).

• These were the OUTCOMEs.

• These were the LIMITATIONS (Constraints).

• These could have been DECISION MAKERS [RV: or Influencers].

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Your critical decision: Studying an MSc!



Start/End Points of Decisions: A Long Process or an Immediate Action?

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Minor Decision

Major Decision

Decision Chain – Interdependency



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“General Approaches to DM”

“Common Approaches to DM Studies

in PM”

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Southampton Business School



Info on Accessing Highfield Campus

• Describing and showing the Campus and its surroundings for your knowledge

• Showing different ways you could come to the campus, their time, means, etc. and you could ‘choose’ the option that works best for you each time you come to campus

• How exactly you should access the campus (via route for cycling)

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Variety of Approaches to DM in the Literature

Theories, studies and methods of making decisions could

take different forms:

• Descriptive

• Normative

• Prescriptive

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Sources: (Bell, Raiffa and Tversky, 1988; Kleindorfer, Kunreuther and Schoemaker, 1993; Virine and Trumper, 2008; Teale, et al., 2003; Frame, 2012)



Theories of and Studies in DM Descriptive

• Descriptive theories try to describe:

• How decisions are made by people

• Why they make them in the way they do

• Example of the fields: behavioural, psychological, sociological, organizational

• Assessment criteria: empirical validity (potential issues: DM at exec level based on studying school pupils!)

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Theories of and Studies in DM Normative

• Normative theories suggest: How the decisions should be made

• Perception: the “decision-makers possess perfect knowledge, know all available options and can predict all possible outcomes” (Teale, et al., 2003, p.268)

• Deal with: “how idealized, rational, super-intelligent people should think and should act” (Bell, Raiffa and Tversky, 1988, p.16)

• Examples of the fields: mathematical and statistical formulations of Operations Research (OR)

• Assessment criteria: accuracy of the methods based on the applied theories

* Programmed Decisions would benefit more!

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Theories of and Studies in DM Prescriptive

• Prescriptive* theories/studies: How can people make better decisions in ‘complex’, ‘real life situations’ with ‘constraints’:

– Try to ‘improve’ DM by ‘helping’ and ‘training’ decision makers in making ‘better’ decisions

– Perception: decision makers are real people trying to make ‘better’ decisions [“… as opposed to imaginary, idealized, super-rational people without psyches …” (Bell, Raiffa and Tversky, 1988, p.9)]

• Examples of the fields: organizational behaviour, planning, strategy, team theory, economics and political science.

• Assessment criteria: ‘pragmatic value’ of theories/studies or their capability in assisting people with making better decisions.

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*As Bell, Raiffa and Tversky (1988, p.9) define! (not all the other textbooks/papers that use this term)



“General Approaches to DM”

“Decisions in Projects: where in PLC,

classification, impact”

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Southampton Business School



When do we need to make decisions in projects?


E.g.: Why, what;

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