|Abstract:||Decision-making is a core competency of managers. According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM, 2008), decision-making is the most critical and common competency that managers utilize for managing teams, departments, or organizations. Managers receive requests for problem solving and adopt important roles during the decision-making process. They make decisions and solve problems in three contextual areas. These contexts include environment, organization, and team.
In the field of human resource development (HRD), decision-making is also an essential component of almost all activities. It is involved in training professionals’ day-to-day practice. The decisions made by managers who are responsible for responding to training requests have three distinctive characteristics. First, decisions related to training are not a single decision, but rather usually consist of a series of decisions that affect each other interdependently. Training decisions rarely lead to a single outcome but a set of outputs. Second, decisions made regarding current training activities bear significant impacts on future decisions. Finally, training decisions made by managers result in changes within the organizations. Moreover, organizational changes affect how training decisions are made.
Reviewing the literature that focused on investigating managerial decision-making, many decision models used in organizations reflect a rational and strategic process. Supported by rationality and system theory, rational and strategic decision-making processes rely on reasoning, information gathering, and system thinking. Decisions made from a rational process are often assumed to be reliable, because this type of process leads to gain maximum results. Yet, not all decisions made by managers in organizations are developed from a rational process. Rational decision-making process might not represent the most frequent occurrence in everyday practice. In reality, individuals make decisions based on more informal principles, rather than on rational considerations. Simon (1955, 1979) argued that managers are not rational, and they often utilize heuristics in practice to make decisions. Further, studies discussed many non-rational decision-making processes used by managers to form an immediate response, such as intuitive decision-making, adaptive decision-making, and heuristic decision-making. However, little is known regarding how managers make decisions in practice when they respond to internal clients’ training requests.
Therefore, the purpose of this study is to describe approaches used by those managers responsible for responding to requests for training. These approaches were adopted when managers made training-related decisions. Critical incident technique (CIT) and semi-structured interviews served as the two methods for gathering responses to answer the four research questions of the study.
Nine interviews and 41 critical incidents were collected to draw conclusions and implications. The results of analyzing 41 critical incidents suggested that managers received five types of training requests. Clients requested technical training programs for obtaining knowledge and skills, awareness training programs to explain on-going changes in the organization, managerial training programs to support current and prospective managers and supervisors, compliance or safety training programs to be scheduled as required by laws and regulations, and customized training programs based on perceived performance issues. The analysis of the semi-structured interview data revealed that managers made different decisions in responses to clients’ training requests and six reasons supported such decisions.
Four decision-making approaches emerged from analyzing the data of the study. Managers used Expedited approach, Value-added approach, Consensus-based approach and Experience-based approach to make decisions in response to training requests from clients. Managers who used Expedited approach made decisions to ensure clients’ training requests were fulfilled without delay. Managers who used Value-added approach made decisions based on the perception of gain from the requested training, and they focused on examining the perceived value to making decisions in response to clients’ training requests. With Consensus-based approach, managers made decisions based on stakeholders’ consensus on the need for the requested training, and they strived to engage stakeholders in the decision-making process. Finally, managers used Experience-based approach and referred to past practice or professional literature to make decisions.