A THEORETICAL COMPARISON OF PROBLEM-SOLVING THEORIES (DECISION-MAKING, PLANNING, POLICYMAKING)

KENNETH JOHN MARTINELLI, Fordham University

Abstract

This study examines three problem-solving theories--rationalism, incrementalism, and planning through mixed scanning--using philosophical inquiry.^ The findings of this study can be summarized as follows: (1) Both classical rationalism and disjointed incrementalism are limited approaches to solving most of today's complex problems. (2) Procedural rationality is a realistic goal, even given the constraints of time, uncertainty, complexity, and cleavage. (3) A three stage conceptualization of problem solving allows for high accountability, fosters learning, and provides an opportunity for decision makers to cope with uncertainty, complexity, and cleavage. (4) A holistic view of how the theories can be integrated is possible and can be used to promote further theoretical synthesis.^ In addition, a set of criteria for enhancing effective problem solving emerges for this study: (1) A normative model or framework is necessary for both learning and accountability. (2) Effective group problem solving requires a permanent core of decision makers. (3) The problem-solving system must facilitate widespread participation of those affected. (4) Effective problem formulation requires an awareness of possible consequences beyond those anticipated by problem solvers. (5) Implementation procedures should be considered during all three problem-solving stages. (6) Problems should determine the decision and implementation strategies. (7) Quantative, analytical decision and implementation microstrategies have limited application. (8) The difference between data and information makes a preliminary or planning stage crucial. (9) Organizations must have a structure which facilitates the activities suggested by this synthesis. (10) Problem solvers should consider the social process surrounding the problem situation. Further, this study has begun a foundation upon which further inquiry can be built: (1) Investigation of the relationship between organizational structure and problem-solving systems. (2) Reformation of training to provide decision makers with skills. (3) Investigation of whether incrementalism or strategic analysis are suitable as temporary strategies. (4) Utilization of the synthesis presented in this study to evaluate other problem-solving approaches. (5) Assessment, in greater detail, of how the problem-solving constraints affect the solving of problems. (6) Investigation of political interactions and how they affect the problem-solving process. (7) Analysis of what adaptations are necessary in order to implement the findings of this study. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.) ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

KENNETH JOHN MARTINELLI, "A THEORETICAL COMPARISON OF PROBLEM-SOLVING THEORIES (DECISION-MAKING, PLANNING, POLICYMAKING)" (January 1, 1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8600095.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8600095

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