Ambiguity, chance, opportunity and actors' attention and allocation of energy may play important roles (1988). The garbage-can
model of choice allows us to understand decisions in a wide range of organizations, from bureaucracies to organized anarchies,
such as our beloved universities and business schools, by tightening and relaxing the assumptions about the factors that are
brought together within the model's parameters.
The Conception of the Decision Making Process
A rational or bounded rational actor scheme cannot grasp the important behavioural aspects of decision making processes. By
engaging in decision making processes, we not only pursue but also discover goals and shape our preferences. Our collection
of information not only precedes the decision, but may even become intensified after the decision has been made. We seek legitimization
and confirmation. There is an alternative decision logic to that of consequential choice. The logic of appropriateness and
rule-following points towards decisions as being much more closely linked to our interpretation of situation, identity and
norms. As Don Quixote one of our favourite characters interprets situations from the perspective of a knight
whose task it is to come to the rescue of ladies threatened by monsters. Windmills turn into monsters and not completely fair
maidens become ladies. Constructivist ideas gain importance in a theoretical universe previously dominated by Sancho Panza
Those lines of investigation have led you to broaden both your and our interests from decision making to the individual and
organizational pursuit of intelligence, thereby shifting emphasis to learning from others as well as from our own experiences
- and making history important. The encoding of pst experiences into organizational routines and rules is a core process in
organizational learning. Organizational adaptation, not only day-to-day, but in the long run, becomes of vital concern. For
years - it was a great experience to hear you lecture on this topic in 1998 you have been preoccupied wit the risk
that business schools and university departments would become too concerned with relevance, at the expense of generating fundamental
knowledge. 'Both the generation of new ideas and persistence with them are encouraged by long future time horizons. These,
in turn, are facilitated by conceptions of a long past connected to a long future by a sense of continuity and progress'
to cite your conclusion in a recent article (1999: 80).
For me, this statement reflects not only a theoretically derived conclusion, but is also a codification of your style as a
leader, mentor and colleagues for many members of the international community of organization researchers.
Intertwined with, and inseparable from, your theoretical development, for decades you have engaged in co-operation with European
scholars, and have patiently supported the development of European organization research by bridging European and American
This is reflected in several publications co-authored with, or with contributions from, European researchers. Among these,
I will only mentioned the vintage anthology Ambiguity and Choice in Organizations (1976, co-edited with Johan P. Olsen) and
a more recent, and widely cited, book Rediscovering Institutions (1989, co-authored with Johan P. Olsen). More publications
could also be mentioned to substantiate your long-term collaboration with European researchers, but I must confess, I have
not read them all.
Furthermore, throughout your busy career you have received with great hospitality and given support to an impressive number
of both young and senior European researchers. Since 1989, the exchange of ideas with Scandinavian countries has been formalized
in the Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research (SCANCOR) with you as the 'founding father' and animator of a decade
of research at the SCANCOR research centre at Stanford University. During those years you profoundly inspired the two hundred
or so scholar from Scandinavia who stayed at SCANCOR for longer or shorter periods.
However, your intensive contacts with the Scandinavian countries have not prevented you from extending your network and support
to embrace researchers from all over Europe.