Operational Research and the Decision Maker
Decision making has strong behavioural components. Decision analysis techniques recognise the primacy of behavioural inputs of subjective probabilities and subjective values, as well as decision problem structures. Implementation of decision analysis in organisational decision making has followed several distinct stages over the last twenty years. Initially, decision analysis was implemented as a normative or prescriptive science which specified optimal solutions to decision problems that the analyst worked through with a client. The underlying decision theory, subjective expected utility, was firmly based on an axiom system that appeared relatively uncontroversial, hence the prescriptions. Psychologists worked on elicitation methods for probability and utility assessment and later on methods to help specify decision problems as decision trees. Later psychological research questioned the ability of human decision makers to provide good enough inputs to decision analysis and a whole literature on heuristics and biases in probability judgements was generated. At the same time, the psychological acceptability of the axiom base was being questioned and issues concerned with the valuation and validation of decision analysis interventions were raised.