Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Epistemic objects in collective decision-making : a practice perspective on the use of causal maps as situated material artifacts
Author: Arevuo, Mikko
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 6165
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Recent practice-based approaches to strategic decision-making research have emphasized the importance of gaining a deeper understanding how managers think, act, and interpret strategic decisions in practice. This focus on the micro aspects of strategic decision-making has emerged from the critique that much of the ‘traditional’ decision- making theory may not be actionable in practice. Research should therefore concentrate on what managers do when they engage in strategic activities. This practice-based perspective considers decision-making as a situated, context specific activity, and research into the enactment of decisions constitutes an important part of understanding decision-making. Such micro focus may reveal insights to the similarities and differences between organizations and teams in the ways in which their members approach decision-making tasks. Studies on decision-making as a situated activity provide valuable insight into managerial practice. However, few studies focus on the role of epistemic objects in decision-making. This thesis makes a contribution by investigating the role of epistemic objects as situated material artifacts in the collective decision-making context. Drawing on extensive review of the literature on epistemic objects, sociomateriality, causal maps, group decision-making, and managerial attribution biases, the thesis identifies an under-researched area in our understanding how epistemic objects interact with human activity in strategy making. As an inductive research undertaking, the thesis makes a theoretical contribution to knowledge by developing a conceptual framework how causal maps as epistemic objects are enacted, interpreted, and used as a sociomaterial decision-making ‘tool-in-use’ by actors. The research reveals how the enactment of causal maps as a ‘safety net’ in collective decision-making increases cognitive conflict in decision-making groups that results in the consideration of multiple decision outcomes and the development of innovative solutions to decision problems. The research also shows how the enactment of causal maps increases decision acceptance among the decision- makers by making their individual knowledge claims visible to other group members, and by motivating them to work collectively towards a shared goal. Furthermore, the research reveals how causal maps act as a ‘shock absorber’ by deflecting the decision- makers’ frustration and anger away from personal confrontation among group members thereby preventing the emergence of affective conflict. Finally, the research results indicate that the enactment of causal maps mitigates managerial biases such as groupthink and the escalation of commitment bias. In terms of managerial contribution the thesis offers a deeper insight to the affordances of causal maps, and how managers can use causal mapping as a practical decision-making ‘tool-in-use’ to improve the quality of decision-making processes by structuring conversations and debate, developing a shared understanding of decision problems, and achieving closure and decision acceptance of the decision outcomes. The thesis concludes by making recommendations for future research and the testing of the conceptual framework that may provide useful guidance for the future development of strategy practice and managerial ‘tools-in-use’ for effective strategy work.
Supervisor: Reinmoller, Patrick Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available