Optimizing Decision-Making Processes in Times of Covid-19: Using Reflexivity to Counteract Information Processing Failures

12 Pages Posted: 15 May 2020

See all articles by Michaéla Schippers

Michaéla Schippers

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Technology and Operations Management

Gabrielle Martins Van Jaarsveld

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Date Written: May 13, 2020

Abstract

The effectiveness of decision making of governments in times of crisis depends largely on their ability to integrate and make sense of information. Covid-19, for which we currently do not have a cure available, confronts governments with the difficult task of making decisions in the interest of public health and safety. Essentially, governments have to react to a threat, of which the extent is unknown, and they are making decisions in the midst of immense uncertainty. From history we know that biases and errors can distort our thinking process and can lead to negative outcomes. This article proposes that team reflexivity—a deliberate process of discussing team goals, processes, or outcomes—can function as an antidote to biases and errors in decision making during a crisis. Prior research has identified several information-processing failures, such as groupthink, where decisions are made based on a biased sampling of information and the focus is on agreement at all costs. Once a decision is implemented, there is a tendency for biases and errors to be even more pronounced. The tendency is that people with dissenting opinions or who present information that threatens the consensus, are often ignored, whipped into agreement or worse. We highlight team reflexivity as a critical information-processing activity that can improve decision making processes in uncertain times.

Keywords: Covid-19, crisis, rflexivity, information-processing failures, groupthink

Suggested Citation

Schippers, Michaela and Martins Van Jaarsveld, Gabrielle, Optimizing Decision-Making Processes in Times of Covid-19: Using Reflexivity to Counteract Information Processing Failures (May 13, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3599939 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3599939

Michaela Schippers (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Technology and Operations Management ( email )

RSM Erasmus University
PO Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Gabrielle Martins Van Jaarsveld

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

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