Judgment in Managerial Decision Making by Max Bazerman – A review
Personal judgement is an integral part of the dynamics of decision making and yet it has probably not received as much emphasis as the subject deserves. Max Bazerman addresses this gap in his book Judgment in Managerial Decision Making. The fact that the author dedicates an entire book to an otherwise overlooked topic in management is, in itself, laudable and is the first positive aspect of this book. Secondly, the great attention to detail and the wide coverage of the influence of factors such as individual biases, personal viewpoints and perceptions as well as past experiences, on effective decision making should be appreciated. While most management text books, even those that focus on the subject of decision making at the management level, tend to take overview approach of this topic, studying the human and psychological side of the decision making process provides a fresh perspective. Bazerman focuses on judgement and biases as a factor that can have both, a positive as well as negative influence on sound decision making, without categorizing it as overly negative or positive. This neutral approach allows the author to communicate with a wider range of audiences that may have differed opinions about the role that judgement plays in effective decision making. Finally, the book is written in a very simplified form of English, and this makes the message easy to understand even to those readers who may be studying decision making for the first time.
While the coverage that the author gives to the subject is in detail, I felt that some inclusions were unnecessary. To begin with, speaking about how the human brain affects judgement seemed to complicate the book. A management student or an employed manager would be interested in knowing how judgement affects decision making, how its influence can be controlled to limit negative outcomes and, where possible, drive better results. The medical and biological aspect of the factor seems irrelevant in this context and may cause the reader to lose interest in the book. Secondly, while Bazerman attempts to remain neutral in his approach towards judgement, he is biased in the coverage he gives to its influences. Considering that his book is aimed at teaching how biases and judgement can be controlled, it seems natural that the author would give limited emphasis to the fact that these influences are inevitable. However, the book would have had a more sincere feel to it if it followed an approach that clearly speaks of only limiting influence of poor judgement or rather about how poor judgement can be changed into good judgement.
While the book has several management and decision making process related lessons to teach, its key lessons lie in the change in approach that it aims to bring among its readers.
It firstly enables the reader to identify and acknowledge the presence of biases and judgement in their own decision making, and this may not be limited to organizational management but everyday life as well. Secondly, readers walk away with very specific know how of how they can control the impact that their personal views have on their decisions and hence make better choices in life and at work.
All in all, Judgement in Managerial Decision Making is a good book to read for those who want to be better decision makers and managers.