Authors Michael D. Cohen, James G. March and Johan P. Olsen theorized a model of organizational decision making called the Garbage Can (GC) model (Cohen, 1972). This model was developed to explain the way decision-making takes place in organizations that experience high levels of uncertainty, in what is described as organized anarchy (Ireland, n.d.). These organizational decisions are a result of random collisions between various elements thrown together with no regimented process or direction. Almost simultaneously within this GC model, problems arise within and outside the organization, solutions are being developed with no specific problem in mind, workers are spinning their wheels of productivity with no end goal to work toward and choices or options are generated for no specific party or question (Fioretti & Lomi, 2008). The organization is essentially a dumping ground where many streams and functions could collide or intersect resulting in decisions almost by accident. The ambiguous nature of this model makes it impossible to duplicate effective practices or eliminate those that hinder progress within the organization.
One example of this organized anarchy can be found in university systems. Their framework has most of the elements found in a GC model organization. Institutional goals are vague, conflicting, and rarely understood. Organizational processes are familiar, but not comprehensive. The major participants in the organization, the faculty and students, wander in and out of the process, participating in organizational activities and decision-making opportunities only until they find something better to do with their time (Giesecke, 1991). Individual schools within an organization have their separate goal...
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Bland, R. L. (2007). Budgeting for improved performance. In A budgeting guide for local government (2nd ed., pp. 127-145). Washington, D.C: International City/County Management Association.
Sielke, C. C. (1995). Budgetary Decision-Making: Is It Rational, Incremental or Garbage Can? Retrieved from Institute of Education Sciences website: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED383048.pdf
Hill, K. (2014, February 5). School Districts and Garbage Cans | Experiential Continuum. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://experientialcontinuum.com/2014/02/05/school-districts-and-garbage-cans/
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