Various studies have attempted to examine the impact that crisis can have on making decisions, whether in organizations or in the public domain. In particular, the characteristics of crises have been studied in depth with an aim of discovering how they influence the mental and cognitive aspects of decision-making procedures.
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For instance, tension, stress and uncertainty are the critical characteristics of crises that tend to have a profound impact on perceptual, motivational and affective dimensions of any decision making process1.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact that crisis has on decision-making. Considering the study by Maitlis and Ozcelik2, this paper argues that decision-making procedure relies on the cognitive aspects of humans, which influenced the leadership style, communication processes and goal orientations.
A crisis is defined as an event that threatens an organization’s existing high priority value, presents limitations in time needed to make decisions and is not expected. It has a profound impact on the organizational leadership, styles of leadership, positioning of organizational goals and the process of communication.
Emotion is perhaps one of the most important human aspects that come under the influence of the situations of an event when making decisions. According to Maitlis and Ozcelik, emotion has a profound role in the process of making decisions in any organization3.
Negative decisions are through to results from widespread negative emotions among the members involved in the process of making decisions. It has been argued that the nature of a crisis determines the emotions of the decisions makers. For instance, as noted earlier, a crisis is an event that is unexpected, occurs with limitation of time and threatens the condition of an organization or a society.
The fact that a crisis places an immediate threat to the wellbeing, survival or norms of a society implies that the individuals involved in the decision making process are not only posed with a major psychological problem, but also that their emotions are greatly affected. Some studies have shown that such situations tend to illicit decisions that are made out of desperation or negative emotions.
Maitlis and Ozcelic introduced the concept of toxic decision-making process4. According to their study, toxic decision-making process tends to generate widespread negative emotions in a given society or an organization. They argue that there is some interplay between the negative emotions and the action taken by the members to solve the crisis.
As previously indicated, the toxic decision-making process is a concept applied during a crisis. Studies have shown that it is a human response to desperation caused by a crisis. It elicits negative emotions, which results into major decisions that could not have been made in absence of the threat presented by the crisis. A good example of such a crisis is the 2006 war between Lebanon and Israel.
Prior to the war, both nations had not anticipated a full military conflict between them. Instead, the anticipations of a crisis were concerned with the illegal and hostile militia groups such as the Hezbollah5.
However, Lebanon’s continued support of the Hezbollah indicated that the nation’s military policy was oriented towards a possible combat against Israel. Therefore, this means that Israel was caught unaware by the Lebanese attacks.
The attacks on Israel posed a crisis to the nation’s decision-making body- the office of the prime minister. Since the attacks were sudden, time limiting and threatening, the amounted to a crisis. Therefore, it elicited negative emotions in Israel, which led to the immediate decision made by Israel to attack Lebanon as a country, killing hundreds of people, including innocent individuals.
Das, Hari. “Impact of Crisis Situations on Organizational Decision-Making.” Indian Journal of Industrial Relations 16, no. 2 (October 2000): 181-193
Maitlis, Sally and Hakan Ozcelik. “Toxic Decision Processes: A Study of Emotion and Organizational Decision Making.” Organization Science 15, no. 4, (July-August 2004): 375–393
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Tür, Özlem. “The Lebanese war of 2006: reasons and consequences.” Perceptions 2 vol. 3 (Spring 2007): 109-122.
1 Hari Das, “Impact of Crisis Situations on Organizational Decision-Making,” Indian Journal of Industrial Relations 16, no. 2 (October 2000): 186
2 Sally Maitlis and Hakan Ozcelik, “Toxic Decision Processes: A Study of Emotion and Organizational Decision Making,” Organization Science 15, no. 4, (July-August 2004): 376
3 Maitlis and Ozcelik, 379
4 Maitlis and Ozcelik, 381
5 Özlem Tür, “The Lebanese war of 2006: reasons and consequences,” Perceptions 2 vol. 3 (Spring 2007): 109-122.