A physics of uncertainty for organizational decision-making: Consensus-seeking versus truth seeking

W. F. Lawless, N. Feltovich, M. Bergman, William P. Staderman

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Abstract

Earlier, we concluded that the DOE sponsored review of its Citizen Advisory Boards ("Boards") by Bradbury and her colleagues favored DOE's policy to seek consensus rules (CR) over traditional majority rules (MR) for Boards advising DOE on its nuclear waste management cleanup. Bradbury and her colleagues had considered CR as an advancement in democracy that provided Citizen Advisory Boards with an outlet for public comment, dismissing whatever contributions Boards make to instrumental action as irrelevant or, worse, as belonging to "the system" (i.e., DOE and its scientists). And in adopting the German philosopher Habermas's beliefs about consensus for DOE's policy, Bradbury and her colleagues had claimed that "coming to an understanding" of what each speaker has to say is the only goal of the Boards. However, to find support or DOE's policy of CR, Bradbury and her colleagues restricted their evidence to subjective data. In contrast, based on a fundamental approach to organizations, we made an empirical challenge of Bradbury's findings by proposing that social links between Boards and DOE sites affect cleanup rates. Fortunately, despite its policy, DOE permits the Boards to self-organize, providing the field evidence to test our empirical claim in two case studies. We mathematically extend the earlier findings, propose a new application, and generalize the results to artificial agent based models (ABM's) of organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 10th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, ICEM'05
Pages1410-1417
Number of pages8
Volume2005
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005
Event10th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, ICEM'05 - Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sep 20058 Sep 2005

Conference

Conference10th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, ICEM'05
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityGlasgow, Scotland
Period4/09/058/09/05

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