Finance - Probability and Statistics Textbook

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The relations between alternatives and objectives are not investigated in detail, only enough to demonstrate some positive links. The objectives are arguments, not criteria for choice; they are instruments for motivation and commitment, not for investigation. The argumentative role of objectives becomes evident in situations where objectives are abandoned after data indicate that they will not be promoted by preferred actions. For instance, the calculations in the merged steel company actually demonstrated that the no-change alternative would be at least as profitable as the alternative that was chosen.

For instance, difficulties of implementing models from operations research have been explained by managers’ emotional reactions or by their cognitive styles (Tarkowsky 1958; Huysmans 1970). If decision-makers only had the brain capacities and knowledge of scientists, they would behave as the rational decision models prescribe. Thus, decisionmakers ought to be selected and trained better. A second explanation derives from psychological research, which indicates that certain types of irrationality are inherent characteristics of human beings, and these characteristics are difficult to change by training (Goldberg 1968; Kahneman and Tversky 1973).

Consequently, not even experts can be fully rational, and full rationality can only be reached by mathematical formulae or computer programs. A third way of explaining apparently irrational behaviour is to point out practical restrictions. In realistic decision situations, values, alternatives, and predictions interact; so decision-makers have incomplete information, or they have more information than human beings can grasp. This view implies that normative research should design systems for gathering and processing data.

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