Human beings are irrational creatures. It is difficult for us to make decisions independent of emotions and cognitive bias. Since we don’t always make the best of the ‘right’ decisions, can we be trusted in times of crises to choose the optimal course of action? Let’s examine decision-making closely.


  1. Meaning Of Bounded Rationality

  2. Theory Of Bounded Rationality

  3. Decision-Making Theory By Herbert Simon

  4. Bounded Rationality Model Of Decision-Making By Herbert Simon

  5. Why Is The Bounded Rationality Model Of Decision-Making Important?

  6. Examples Of Bounded Rationality


Meaning Of Bounded Rationality


Bounded rationality is a decision-making mechanism in which we try to satisfy rather than optimize our goals. Instead of seeking the optimal decision, we choose a decision that will suffice. 

Theory Of Bounded Rationality


Bounded rationality means making reasonable decisions within the constraints of the knowledge we have access to and based on our cognitive ability. In economics, boundedly rational people aren’t ‘economic supermen’ who spend their lives maximizing the happiness they can generate from every decision. They’re satisficers—people who took the option that best met their needs and goals without going to great lengths to ensure they’d considered all opportunities.

The theory of bounded rationality states that neoclassical economics is reduced by bounded rationality. Satisficers are a more diversified group, with varying individual tastes throughout time. Satisficers aren’t very adept at making consistent decisions or expecting the implications. They frequently decide based on social standards, morality, justice, affection, peer influences and other factors. They may even decide on the spur of the moment, with little to no regard for repercussions.

The bounded rationality model has three fundamental parameters:

  •  Cognitive limitations
  •  Time constraints
  •  Imperfect information

Decision-Making Theory By Herbert Simon


Herbert Simon outlines the significance of organizations in the decision-making process of their employees. He claims that these organizations draw such individuals’ independence and replace it with an organizational decision-making process. In this theory, you attempt to construct language and conceptual tools that apply to reality and organizations. The decision-making theory by Herbert Simon argues that judgment is at the center of organizations and that you must develop organizational theory from the reasoning and psychology of human decisions.

Herbert Simon’s decision-making model’s core premise is that decision-making is at the center of an organization and you must develop it from social decision reasoning and psychology. The organization’s three roles include:

  •  Impacting people’s behaviors
  •  Providing a method to exert power and influence over others
  •  Regulating the flow of information

Simon claims that there’s room for a theory of organization in the arena where conduct is consciously rational but only in a limited sense.

According to Herbert Simon’s decision-making model, our civilization’s data processing systems have an exceedingly rich soup of data. The limited resources in such a world are not information—they’re the processing power to deal with the data.

Bounded Rationality Model Of Decision-Making By Herbert Simon


To address the contradiction between objectives and uncertainty, Simon suggests to forecast short-term behavior, we need to understand cognitive and perceptual mechanisms. Information filtering is an active process of attention that’s affected by hopes and aspirations rather than a passive activity.

When information is abundant, there’s a scarcity of something else. When there’s a lack of knowledge absorbed, the information occupies the recipients’ interest. More than speaking, data systems must listen and think. You design a new system for dealing with advanced information.

Different economists have argued for and against bounded rationality decision-making. The bounded rationality models have been put forth by Herbert Simon, Barnard, March and Simon, Paul and Fischhoff, among others.

Why Is The Bounded Rationality Model Of Decision-Making Important?


Businesses will employ marketing strategies to profit from our flawed decision-making. Therefore, we need to be aware of this shortcoming. They frequently label their goods with alluring qualifiers and adjectives with little to no significance.

If we want to avoid being defrauded by organizations, we must know they’re using bounded rationality decision-making to their advantage. They understand that we don’t have time to read the fine print or examine the information on everything we purchase.


Examples Of Bounded Rationality


Based on the definition of bounded rationality, let’s look at some examples that illustrate how it plays a crucial role in organizations, especially during times of crisis.

  1. Decision-making takes place in complex systems in organizations where competing forces exist and organizational goals don’t align with individual ambitions.
  2. What’s sensible for an organization in terms of economics gives them the most money. Consumers are increasingly demanding businesses to be ethical in their operations, particularly for environmental concerns.
  3. Researchers have discovered that handling the barter between price and prestige or what talents and assets were present was a deep worry for managers. Because we live in a complicated world that isn’t black and white, this example shows that a bounded rationality model of decision-making is beyond perfect rationality.
  4. Rose is the CEO of a global corporation with offices in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Profits and revenues are declining, and investors are growing impatient for results.
  5. Rose will have to make a choice. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack—there’s so much data to gather before making a suitable judgment.
  6. It’s nearly impossible for any CEO to make the best judgment in such a situation. They must first gather appropriate information, but they may be unaware of information that could be useful.
  7. The crux of the situation is that a CEO’s ability to gather all the essential knowledge is quite doubtful. Then there’s the question of whether they’d be able to efficiently evaluate hundreds upon hundreds of documents if they could obtain all the information.
  8. Finally, a decent decision is reached that satisfies a set of criteria but isn’t necessarily the best.

The above are just two examples of bounded rationality that explain the concept.

Bounded rationality in decision-making illustrates how people make judgments that differ from economic rationality. Rather than making the best decisions, we frequently make acceptable ones.

Harappa’s Making Decisions course will give you an edge over your peers when it comes to making choices that are best for you. Learn from our team of experts and excel as an employee and manager. Sign up now!

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