Mixed-Scanning: A 'Third' Approach to Decision-Making

Public Administration Review, Vol. 27, No. 5 (Dec., 1967), pp. 385-392

9 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2013

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: December 1967


In the concept of social decision-making, vague commitments of a normative and political nature are translated into specific commitments to one or more specific courses of action. Since decision-making includes an element of choice, it is the most deliberate and voluntaristic aspect of social conduct. As such, it raises the question: To what extent can social actors decide what their course will be, and to what extent are they compelled to follow a course set by forces beyond their control? Three conceptions of decision-making are considered here with assumptions that give varying weights to the conscious choice of the decision-makers.

Rationalistic models tend to posit a high degree of control over the decision-making situation on the part of the decision-maker. The incrementalist approach presents an alternative model, referred to as the art of “muddling through,” which assumes much less command over the environment. Finally, the article outlines a third approach to social decision-making which, in combining elements of both earlier approaches, is neither as utopian in its assumptions as the first model nor as conservative as the second. For reasons which will become evident, this third approach is referred to as mixed-scanning.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, Mixed-Scanning: A 'Third' Approach to Decision-Making (December 1967). Public Administration Review, Vol. 27, No. 5 (Dec., 1967), pp. 385-392. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2356273

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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