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Managerial Decision Making

  • Teacher(s):   U.Hoffrage  
  • Course given in: English
  • ECTS Credits: 6 credits
  • Schedule: Autumn Semester 2020-2021, 4.0h. course (weekly average)
  •  sessions
  • site web du cours course website
  • Related programmes:
    Master of Science (MSc) in Management, Orientation Strategy, Organization and Leadership

    Master of Science (MSc) in Management, Orientation Marketing

    Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en management, Orientation Behaviour, Economics and Evolution

    Master of Science (MSc) in Management, Orientation Business Analytics

    Master of Law (MLaw) in Law and Economics



  • To identify phases in the decision making process,
  • To learn about the traps in each of these phases and
  • To learn about tools and techniques for making sound and rational decisions.
  • To learn about types of negotiations.
  • To learn how to increase the chances for making a good deal in a negotiation.


Business revolves around making decisions, often risky decisions, usually with incomplete information and too often in less time than desirable. Decision-making is a business skill that managers often take for granted in themselves and others, but it is not as easy as some might think. This course will familiarize students with important approaches to decision making, thereby covering both normative and descriptive theories, as well as prescriptive tools. Moreover, various topics relevant for managers as decision makers will be discussed, for instance, intuition, group processes, the impact of time and time pressure, experience, accountability, or ethics, to mention just a few. Several examples, case-studies and exercises will illustrate how various tools can be applied to improve managerial decision making and to what extent various theoretical approaches are useful to understand what managers are actually doing.

A special focus will be on negotiations. A negotiation can be seen as the interaction of at least two parties whose interests are not aligned and who use their judgments and make decisions while trying to find an agreement. We will look at different types of negotiations, and learn about negotiation tactics/strategies. Particularly this part of the course will be quite practical, that is, include many actual negotiations and exercises, but also real cases (which have been documented for teaching purposes).

Organization of the course:

The Corona crisis, the measures taken by our university, and the uncertainty about future developments impose some constraints on us and may force us to be flexible. Nevertheless, a few things can already be stated now and will not change: (1) Physical presence on campus will at no point be necessary. This means (a) even though there may be some classroom sessions (the first session will definitely be held in a classroom; Antropole 2013), it seems not all of you will be allowed to enter each and every of such sessions, (b) your grade will not be negatively affected if you will never ever come to such a session, and (c) for those who cannot or do not want to enter the classroom, an online alternative will be provided. (2) There will be no exam at the end, but a final project that will be centered around a decision making case. (3) The course will include lectures that will be given in form of online videos.

For many, if not most, decision problems it is hard or even impossible to determine what the optimal process and decision would be. As a consequence, this course involves not only lecturing and theory, but also discussion, arguments and controversies. For most weeks, a set of videos will be uploaded before class. You will have to watch these videos before the respective session, prepare the relevant assignments and upload them on the moodle platform before the deadline. Assignments have to be done either individually or in groups (the composition of some of these group will involve some random element). Most assignments will be discussed in class. Whether these discussions (and those of the lecture videos) will take place exclusively in the virtual space (on zoom), or also in the classroom is not yet determined and may also change during the semester.


The course is largely (but not exclusively) based on the following literature. Some parts are required, others are recommended, more detailed information will be provided in the class.

Russo, J. E. & Schoemaker, P. J. H. (2002). Winning decisions: Getting it right the first time. New York: Currency/Doubleday.

Book review (of Russo & Shoemaker) by Patric Andersson (2003). Journal of Economic Psychology, 24, 795-797 ( 48V83GT-3/2/21062afe8a7aba5be6d3914e0955c2f7)

Bazerman, M. H. (2006). Judgment in managerial decision making (6th ed.). New York: Wiley.

Hammond, J. S., Keeney, R. L., & Raiffa, H. (1999). Smart choices: A practical guide to making better decisions. New York: Broadway Books.

Galotti, K. M. (2002). Making decisions that matter: How people face important life choices. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Halpern, D. F. (2002). Thought and Knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc. Inc.

Hoffrage, U., & Marewski, J. (2015). Unveiling the Lady in Black: Modeling and aiding intuition. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4, 145–163.

Klein, G. (2004). The power of intuition: How to use your gut feelings to make better decisions at work. New York: Currency/Doubleday.

Hogarth, R., (2001). Educating Intuition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gigerenzer, G. (2007). Gut feelings: The intelligence of the unconscious. New York: Viking Press. (Translated in 17 languages, so probably also in your native language).

Nutt, P.C. (1989) Making tough decisions: tactics for improving managerial decision making. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Fisher, R., Ury, W. L., & Patton, B. (2011). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in. Penguin.

Inside Risk. A documentary of a kidnapping case, with a focus on the negotiation with the kidnappers, (not publicly available).


Interest in the topic. Registration on the moodle. Having installed and being able to use the zoom platform. No limitation concerning number of students.


First attempt

Without exam (cf. terms)  

There is no exam for this course. The grade is determined by the following three components.

(1) Individual (or group) assignments during the semester (together 65%)

Note that Assignments 1 and 2 are already due before the second session and will be discussed in the second session. Until 16.9. 14:00 you have to decide whether you want to do assignments 1 and 2 and register for this on the moodle. Assignment 2 is a group assignment and in order to compose the groups we need to know whom to include in the matching procedure. You can, of course, still drop the course later, but conversely, having missed these two assignments will negatively impact your grade. In general, late submissions will be penalized as long as they are still uploaded before the session in which they will be discussed (thereafter, the grade will be “1”).

2) Participation during class throughout the semester (10%)

3) Final assignment (25%)

The final assignment consists of three parts, all of them to be completed in the virtual space: a group presentation, feedback that you give on your peers´ presentations, and a revised presentation that incorporates the feedback you received from your peers. All three corresponding deadlines will be in January. Missing parts will receive a grade of “1”. Late submissions will be penalized, from mildly to severely depending on the time of submission.


Without exam (cf. terms)  

Components with grades below 4 will be replaced by essays (except for class contribution, which cannot be changed)

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