Bowen, Michael G., "Contrasting Perspectives on Rationality and the Analysis of Performance Outcomes", 1990

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The normative view of rationality has been used for many years as the principal framework from which to analyze performance outcomes. Analyses of managerial behavior from this essentially reductionist view contain the argument that decision makers often fail to “correctly” observe and act upon the situations they face. A growing number of behavioral decision theorists, however, argue that the conclusions about behavior which have been derived from the normative view are misleading because they may be artifacts of the theoretical assumptions or empirical approaches used by analysts. The questions that this distinction raises are particularly important to systems scientists because they bear directly on whether powerful reductionist models of inquiry and evaluation, firmly entrenched in traditional scientific norms, will or should continue to dominate holistic perspectives for thinking about behavior in complex systems. The purpose of this paper is thus to review and explore differences that exist between the normative and non-normative views, and to use this synthesis as a framework for understanding the relative importance of the viewpoints as they relate to evaluating managerial performance.

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