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How Underlying Views Shape Manager Judgment

According to this study, managers’ disagreements about “good judgment” result from their different ideologies. Managers with authoritarian ideologies tend to hold others responsible, be less open to excuses, be more confident, simplify decision making by communicating preferences clearly, and emphasize accountability to shareholders over other stakeholders. On the other hand, managers who hold more egalitarian ideologies tend to be more open to justifications, be more self-critical, see more complexity in the world, be more tolerant of other perspectives, and emphasize accountability to all stakeholders.


Although researchers have debated the components of rational decision making, any definitive answer implies that there is a “right” way to manage. For instance, should managers reward employees for following rules regardless of the results? Or, should managers reward employees who achieve good results despite deviating from the rules? This paper argues that managers’ judgments on contentious questions are rooted in their underlying philosophical views.


  • Managers who hold authoritarian ideologies (i.e. those who prefer hierarchies and don’t trust others easily) use a management style that holds others responsible, is less open to justifications and excuses, is more confident and determined, simplifies the decision-making process by communicating their preferences clearly to subordinates, and emphasizes accountability to shareholders over other stakeholders.

  • Managers who hold egalitarian ideologies (i.e. those who dislike hierarchies and cut-throat competition, have more trust in people, and view humanity as fragile and in need of protection) prefer a management style that is more open to justifications, is more self-critical, sees more complexity in the world, is more tolerant of other perspectives even if doing so complicates decision making, and emphasizes accountability to all stakeholders, not only shareholders.

Implications for Managers

Managers should be aware that their own underlying philosophical views and ideologies, and those of their colleagues and their employees, influence what they consider to be “good judgment.” Depending on the manager’s underlying ideologies, their management styles may have either a positive or negative spin. Thus, actions that may seem flexible and open-minded to one person may seem indecisive to another.

Implications for Researchers

Although managers’ underlying ideologies and thinking styles play an important role in their decision making, very little research focuses on these issues in business and management. Future research could address whether the ideological disagreements of managers are rooted in facts or in values. Disagreements rooted in facts can be resolved by a thorough review of evidence, whereas disagreements rooted in values may be more difficult to resolve. A limitation of this research is its basis on solely self-reported opinions.


The study uses quantitative data from a survey of 259 middle managers in 6 organizations in the United States (3 private sector and 3 public sector) and is backed by qualitative interviews with 26 managers representing distinct political points of view. The study uses factor analysis to organize the independent variables (conservative vs. egalitarian ideologies and simplistic vs. complex world views) and conducts a regression analysis to gauge their effects on the dependent variables (attitudes toward various cognitive biases and management styles).

Author is Mohammed Keyhani 

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