Individual decision-making in organizations : contribution of uncertainty and controversy in China

Dean TJOSVOLD, Ann Chunyan PENG, Nancy Yifeng CHEN, Sofia Su FANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Uncertainty has been thought to challenge the cognitive capabilities of managers and thereby undermine their decision-making abilities. However, managers who experience uncertainty in that they are unsure of the adequacy of their own position may open-mindedly consult with their colleagues in the organization before they make the decision. A sample of 122 Chinese mainland managers described and rated a critical incident when they tried to make a decision. Regression analyses indicated that to the extent that managers initially felt uncertain about the solution they engaged in constructive controversy, i.e. the open-minded discussion for mutual benefit, which, in turn, led to effective decision-making. Cooperative goals further moderated the association of uncertainty with cooperative goals such that the positive association was stronger with less cooperative goals. These results underline the positive role of uncertainty in solving difficult problems, especially under competitive goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-821
Number of pages21
JournalGroup Decision and Negotiation
Issue number4
Early online date30 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Constructive controversy
  • Decision making
  • Goal independence
  • Uncertainty


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