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INFORMATION, DECISION MAKING AND ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT IN A PUBLIC RESEARCH UNIVERSITY: A CASE STUDY ANALYSIS USING BOUNDED RATIONALITY THEORY

by Riley, Thomas Joseph

Abstract (Summary)
Organization theorists have argued that organizations in higher education have difficulty making decisions that effectively address or change their environment. They have been characterized as loosely coupled structures that have difficulty in decision making to solve problems. This study examined the decision making process of enrollment planners at a large public research university in response to an enrollment crisis in the first half of the 1990's that affected the flagship campus and many of its satellite campuses. The theoretical framework is Herbert Simon's theory of Bounded Rationality and the anarchic (or garbage can) decision making model created by James March, Michael Cohen and Johan Olsen. Simon theorized that many problems are surrounded by complex amounts of information needs and a variety of possible responses that make decision making problematic. Calculating what response or action is optimal can be unfeasible because of the degree of complexity involved. Simon called this a theory of Bounded Rationality. In a departure from more orderly models of organizational decision making, Cohen, March and Olsen suggested a more radical interpretation of organizations as organized anarchies. The "Garbage Can" model was originally formulated in the context of the operation of universities and their many inter-departmental communications problems. One of the most important factors influencing decisions is the management, dissemination and analysis of information. An intrinsic component of the management of information is communication. Analyses of the information management and communications processes were key components of this study. This research study assessed the overall quality of the decision making and suggested ways of improving the process. The study described a "real world" decision making environment in a situation affecting enrollments at a major research university. In the search of higher education administration literature on decision making, there seemed to be a paucity of case studies similar to this one. Therefore, it proffers a description of what may happen when decision makers fail to realize the complexities and limitations of human and organizational capabilities in a turbulent environment.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:John C. Weidman, Ph.D.; Sean Hughes, Ph.D.; Erik C. Ness, Ph.D.; Betsy A. Porter, Ph.D.,; William B. Thomas, Ph.D.

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:administrative and policy studies

ISBN:

Date of Publication:06/27/2007

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