Learn, Do Not Copy!

Models and methods of decision making

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

For this assessment criteria, you will explore models and methods of decision-making and analyse their importance and relevance.

We already looked at a couple of decision-making models at the beginning of this unit (Drucker, 1967 and Guo, 2008), so you may wish to refer back to these. Below, you will find further decision-making methods.

Group decision-making

Group decision-making is where multiple stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process. This allows everybody to have their voice heard and come to an agreement, which also helps with the implementation of the decision because all parties have ownership of it. The downside is that this method of decision-making takes a lot more time. More information on the advantages and disadvantages of group decision-making can be found here.

Descriptive decision-making

Descriptive decision theory is concerned with

Normative or prescriptive decision-making

Rational decision-making

Rational decision making favours objective data and a formal process of analysis over subjectivity and intuition. The model of rational decision making assumes that the decision-maker has full or perfect information about alternatives; it also assumes they have the time, cognitive ability, and resources to evaluate each choice against the others.

Intuitive decision-making


Gut instincts

Gut instinct is intuition or a feeling that you have that a decision is the right one to make without any evidence to back up your choice.

Professional judgment

Logical and justifiable decision-making

Informal vs formal decision-making

Reviewing the decision-making process

  • Group decision making
  • Descriptive decision making
  • Normative or prescriptive decision making
  • Rational decision making – based on analysis and facts
  • Intuitive decision making
  • Mind mapping – aims and purpose
  • ‘Gut’ instincts and related risk and implications without facts
  • Professional judgement(s)
  • Logical and justifiable decision making
  • The difference between informal and formal decision making
  • Reviewing the decision making process – purpose and timings


“It is exploring and using both explicit/formal and implicit/tacit knowledge in social care. Implicit/tacit knowledge is sometimes described as ‘gut feeling’: as part of a critical thinking process, attempts have to be made to ascertain how we know what we know and why we do what we do.”

Lewis, J. (2002) ‘Research and development in social care: governance and good practice’, Research and Policy Planning, vol 20, no 1, pp 3-10.

Evidence = ‘findings’ + interpretation of the findings Knowledge = evidence + practice wisdom + user experience.

Group decision making – time consuming as lots of people have an opinion and must compromise or agree but allows everyone to have their say, feel valued and own the decision.

Descriptive decision making uses personal experience, values and beliefs to make choices.

Normative decision making is whether decisions are made independently or collaboratively.

Descriptive decision making is when decisions are made independently by management.

Rational decision making is when decisions are based on facts and figures

Mindmapping is a visual approach used for sharing and explaining ideas – may be useful for visual learners.

Gut instincts – should be listened to but must be backed up with data. May need to weigh up risks of making decisions without facts – sometimes this may be necessary such as in an emergency situation.

Professional judgment is wisdom gained over time through experience and practice. Allows space for making decisions based on experience.

Logical/justifiable decision making is decisions that you can justify and be accountable for – be ableto explain why you came to the decision, even if there is an element of gut instinct or professional judgment.

Informal decision making is when decision-making is more democratic and flexible. Informal decision making is when decisions are made by management with little or no collaboration.

Decision making process:

  1. define – purpose, timing
  2. analyse – gather information
  3. barriers to making a decision
  4. who might influence decision?
  5. what are the options?
  6. analyse each option for pros and cons
  7. choose best option
  8. be able to justify
  9. action/sell
  10. evaluate