Effective decision-making within a large local authority

Ballard, Harry Herbert (1994-12)

Dissertation (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 1994.

One copy microfiche.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Decision-making, the process of choosing between alternatives, is the single most important function within any organisation whether it be in the private or public sector. Local government is located in a unique dynamic political, economic, social and technological environment and provides services to the community within this environment through the transformation of resources. The transformation process relies on a series of decision-making processes to ensure the continuation of this transformation process. The decision-maker in local government is faced with ever-increasing demands for basic collective services with a diverse population with different and increasing needs, expectations and interests. Constitutional reform has also made an impact on local government as it will have to be representative of the community which it serves for legitimacy purposes. These external and internal influences will impact on the decision-makers whose success will be dependent upon whether they are able to improve the general welfare of the community. In view of the scenario sketched above it is clear that decision making is more complex in the public sector environment as it is value-laden. Various decision-making models and techniques have been propagated to assist the decisionmaker in the search for the best alternative. This process is referred to as optimisation. These models and techniques do not however, ensure that the envisaged outcome of the decision will be achieved because of the dynamic and changing environment within which local government is located. In view of this uncertainty there has been a tendency for decisionmakers to make decisions which satisfy the circumstances prevailing at that particular point in time (satisficing) which is not always effective. No attempt has been made to provide the decision-maker with a set of norms or rules to be applied which could be of assistance either individually or collectively to arrive at a more effective decision. In order to assist the decision-maker to arrive at a more effective decision, this research attempts to ascertain quantitatively which norms or criteria should be applied so as to achieve the prime purpose of the mission which is to improve the general welfare of the community. The research will also attempt to take into account the diverse interests, needs, values and perceptions of the community as well as the subjective bias and perceptions of the decision-makers themselves. The purpose of this study/research is to determine the increased possibility of more effective decision-making through the application of applicable normative criteria against the background of an open systems environment, as sketched above. A case study approach was adopted whereby two actual decisions were identified and evaluated according to selected applicable normative criteria. The evaluation was undertaken by the decision-makers themselves (i.e. selected local authority) as well as three representative control groups within the wider community of the selected local authority. The results were computed quantitatively through the application of an appropriate selected statistical model which could measure factual and value-laden judgements, as to the extent of application of these normative criteria. The results were developed from the responses received from the actual four participatory groups. The analysis and conclusions will be based on the quantified results arising from the evaluation of the two decision-cases in question.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Besluitneming, synde die proses om een van verskillende altematiewe te kies, is die belangrikste funksie in enige onderneming, hetsy in die privaat- of openbare sektor. Plaaslike regering vind plaas in 'n unieke en dinamiese politiese, ekonomiese, sosiale en tegnologiese omgewing waarbinne dienste aan die gemeenskap gelewer word deur die omskepping van hulpbronne. Die omskeppingsproses steun op 'n reeks besluitnemingsprosesse om die voortsetting daarvan te verseker. Die besluitnemer in plaaslike regering staar voortdurend hoër eise vir basiese gemeenskapsdienste in die gesig van 'n uiteenlopende bevolking met toenemende en verskillende behoeftes, verwagtinge en belange. Grondwetlike hervorming het ook 'n invloed op plaaslike regering, deurdat dit verteenwoordigend moet wees van die gemeenskap wat dit bedien om as wettig erken te word. Hierdie eksteme en interne faktore sal die besluitnemers, wie se sukses sal afhang daarvan of hulle die algemene welsyn van die gemeenskap kan verbeter, beinvloed. Gesien in die lug van die feite hierbo vermeld, is dit duidelilk dat besluitneming in die openbare sektor meer ingewikkeld is, deurdat ander waardes ook in ag geneem moet word. Verskeie besluitnemingsmodelle en tegnieke is voorgestel om die besluitnemer te help om die beste keuse te maak. Die proses word na verwys as optimalisering. Die modelle en tegnieke kan egter nie verseker dat die beplande resultaat van die besluit behaal word nie, as gevolg van die dinamiese en veranderende omgewing waarbinne plaaslilke regering funksioneer. Hierdie onsekerheid lei daartoe dat besluitnemers neig om besluite te maak wat die heersende omstandighede op enige spesifieke tydstip bevredig, wat nie noodwendig effektief is nie. Daar was geen poging om die besluitnemer te voorsien van neergelegde standaarde of reels wat hom, individueel of gesamentlik, van hulp sou wees om 'n meer effektiewe besluit te neem nie. Ten einde die besluitnemer van hulp te wees om 'n meer effektiewe besluit te neem, probeer hierdie ondersoek kwantitatief vasstel water standaarde of maatstawwe toegepas behoort te word om die hoofdoel, synde die verbetering van die algemene welsyn van die gemeenskap, te bereik. Die ondersoek sal ook poog om die uiteenlopende belange, behoeftes, waardes en waarnemings van die gemeenskap, sowel as die subjektiewe vooroordeel en gewaarwordinge van die besluitnemers, in ag te neem. Die doel van hierdie studie/navorsing is om vas te stel wat die moontlikheid van meer effektiewe besluitneming is, deur die toepassing van geskikte normatiewe maatstawwe teen die agtergrond van 'n oop omgewing, soos hierbo uiteengesit. 'n Gevallestudie benadering is gevolg, waar twee werklike besluite geidentifiseer en evalueer is in ooreenstemming met etlike toepaslike normatiewe maatstawwe. Die evaluering is gedoen deur die besluitnemers self (synde 'n uigesoekte plaaslike regering) sowel as drie verteenwoordigende kontrole groepe binne die breer gemeenskap van die gekose plaaslike regering. Die resultate is kwantitatief bereken deur die toepassing van 'n geskikte statistiese model, wat feitlike en waardebepalings kon meet, om die omvang van die toepassing van die normatiewe maatstawwe vas te stel. Die resultate is ontwikkel van die terugvoering ontvang van die vier deelnemende groepe. Die analise en gevolgtrekking is gegrond op die eindresultate wat uit die evaluering van die twee betrokke gevallestudies vloei.

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