IMAGE THEORY AND WORKPLACE DECISIONS: CHALLENGES
Terry Connolly University of Arizona
The preceding chapters make it abundantly clear that image theory has already had, and continues to have, a significant impact on thinking about decision making processes in organizations. From the most personal decisions of the individual planning a career or choosing a job to the broadest, most significant choices of long-term organizational strategy, image theory has provided both stimulus and framework for a number of novel and interesting studies. The present chapter revisits the theory in hopes of identifying possible areas for further research potential.
We do not confine ourselves to a strict reading of image theory but, rather, use it as the best developed of several somewhat heretical approaches to decision making that have emerged in recent years to challenge the hegemony of the subjective expected utility (SEU) model. These heretical theories differ in various respects but share with image theory a concern with the descriptive inadequacies of the SEU model and, though less clearly, some ideas by which these deficiencies may be overcome. We focus here on image theory partly for its own merits, and partly because it more broadly represents the cluster of heretical theories.
To set the scene for our exploration we first sketch two imaginary but realistic scenarios. In both, events take place that a lay person would describe as decision making but which are surprisingly difficult to formulate in conventional decision theoretical terms. We use these formulation difficulties as a