First Advisor

Jan Hajda

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Science


Systems Science




Decision making, School management and organization -- Decision making



Physical Description

3, ix, 243 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


Decision-making processes are among the most important activities within human organizations. This dissertation is a case study of decision-making in the review of high school graduation standards in an urban school district. The review process lasted three years and was terminated before any decision was reached concerning graduation standards. The purpose of this study is to answer three questions: Why would a decision-making process be terminated before any results are achieved? Under what circumstances do decision makers choose to let the process die? What do such decision making processes reveal about the organization? This case study employs the rational choice model, the process model, and the organizational decision-making model. These three models are constructed within the theoretical frameworks of systems science, sociology, and political science, and also draw upon the literatures of education reform and organization theory. Define a NDR (non-decision-reaching) decision-making process as one which produces no outcome. The rational choice model suggests that the NDR outcome in this case was the best alternative under the circumstances. Two obstacles, insufficient resources and external uncertainties, were identified as important factors which led decision makers to choose the NDR outcome over other alternatives. The process model suggests that a decision outcome may not be necessary in many organizational decision-making processes, as the process itself is often significant and sufficient. The process accommodates, to some extent, the interests of the decision makers even without a definite outcome. The organizational decision-making model posits that organizational rules and procedures dictate decision-making processes, and that organizational interests will determine the nature and the outcome of such processes. In this model the NDR outcome is the result of organizational interests that no decision be reached. The conclusions of this case study indicate that a loose structural relationship among the decision makers was a major cause of the NDR outcome. In addition, the decision makers had never fully reconciled their differences regarding the nature of the decision problem. The changing environment of public education is also identified as a factor leading to the NDR outcome.


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