This paper examines the exercise of power in organizational decision making. Four case studies are presented in the text and are analyzed in terms of the power plays of senior managers who were centrally involved in the decision-making process. In particular, the analysis distinguishes between bounded and unbounded decisions. In the former case the power plays of interests are constrained by preestablished organizational rules and procedures, while in the latter case unbounded decisions are relatively free from such organizational parameters and allow actors to exercise power selectively to secure their own interests. The data suggest that decisions may become unbounded in four ways: through unaccustomed forms of data, individual conflict, and novel topics for decision and where the problem is initiated from an unexpected or unusual source. Where decisions become unbounded the data suggest that those actors who are existing power holders through the control of critical contingencies are also able to take advantage of the rules and procedures of the institution to further their own interests.
Human Relations
Sprott School of Business

Wilson, D.C. (David C.), Butler, R.J. (Richard J.), Cray, D, Hickson, D.J. (David J.), & Mallory, G.R. (Geoffrey R.). (1986). Breaking the Bounds of Organization in Strategic Decision Making. Human Relations, 39(4), 309–331. doi:10.1177/001872678603900402