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When Good Decision-Making is Bad Decision-Making

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King Gustavus Adolphus. By Presumably Jacob Hoefnagel – Google Arts & Culture: Home – pic, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21785153

This is interesting and somewhat alarming:

This study utilizes five general decision-making styles: Rational, Intuitive, Dependent, Avoidant and Spontaneous. The aim of this study is to examine whether one or several of the general decision-making styles (GDMS) have an impact on tactical outcomes in wargames. A total of 104 officers and academics participated in the study. The study’s foremost conclusion is that the Dependent style is significantly connected to defeat in the wargame’s dueling set up.

And not in a good way:

The Dependent decision-making style is typified by individuals who seek advice and guidance from others prior to making important decisions. This style adversely impacts the capacity for innovative behavior and creativity for the same reason as the Rational decision-making style. The Dependent decision style is also affiliated with a reduced ability to complete a thought process (e.g., a decision-making process) without being distracted by irrelevant thoughts. Individuals with a Dependent decision style tend to desire to solve quandaries rather than avoid them, although they also have a tendency to doubt their own ability to find a solution.10 A study by Alacreu-Crespo et al. pos-ited that the Dependent decision style is strongly associated with the need for emo-tional and instrumental support. The Dependent decision style encompasses individuals with socially open and constructive natures, as well as passive and anxious individuals.1

This is interesting because many of the traits associated with “Dependent” are traits that I would normally associate with good leadership; seeking advice and guidance, solving quandaries rather than avoiding them, having a health degree of self-doubt, etc. At the same time there are aspects of the account that make sense; a decision-making style that seems at times quite indecisive is perhaps unlikely to have consistent success. There are of course all of the important methodological caveats here, as the study population is Swedish military officers and the metrics for “success” and “failure” are modeled in ways that may be problematic. But then again wargames among a group of cultural and professional similar individuals may be one of the best available ways to test differences between different leadership styles…

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