vroom-yetton-decision-model-explained

Vroom-Yetton Decision Model Explained

The Vroom-Yetton decision model is a decision-making process based on situational leadership. According to this model, there are five decision-making styles guides group-based decision-making according to the situation at hand and the level of involvement of subordinates: Autocratic Type 1 (AI), Autocratic Type 2 (AII), Consultative Type 1 (CI), Consultative Type 2 (CII), Group-based Type 2 (GII).

Understanding the Vroom-Yetton decision model

The Vroom-Yetton decision model was created by Victor Vroom with subsequent input from Phillip Yetton in 1973 and Arthur Jago in 1988. 

Vroom, a business school professor at the Yale School of Management, developed the model based on a passion for discovering why subordinates follow a specific course of action and prefer some outcomes over others in organizations. To that end, the model is based on a situational leadership theory that is itself based on organizational and industrial psychology.

Vroom and Yetton argued that the participation of subordinates in decision-making was one of the most persistent and controversial issues in business management. 

In response to this issue, the Vroom-Yetton decision model was created. The model defines circumstances in which subordinate participation in decision-making either benefits or hinders organizational effectiveness. 

Based on empirical evidence, the model advocates a set of guidelines governing the extent of subordinate involvement in decision-making. The model suggests that good decision-making is based on context and that not all decisions are created equal. This requires the leader to adapt their behavior based on the level of subordinate participation.

The three factors of the Vroom-Yetton model

First, the model asks decision-makers to consider three specific factors that relate to the decision that needs to be made. The individual who takes the time to assess these factors in detail will be rewarded with a clear plan of action.

Now let’s take a look at each factor:

Decision quality

How critical is it to arrive at the correct decision? While the business should always strive to make the right choice, some choices are more important than others. The commitment of vast amounts of resources to every decision is simply not feasible, so the business must pick and choose its battles, as it were.

Subordinate commitment

Some decisions will impact subordinates in some way, while other decisions will have very little to do with them. Leaders must assess the impact of a decision on subordinates and the organization as a whole. To increase buy-in, subordinates should always be involved in decisions that impact them.

Time constraints

When making a decision, an accurate timeline should first be created to determine whether there is time to include others or research potential solutions in detail beforehand.

Assessing the organizational effectiveness of decision making

To determine the influence the above three factors will have on the decision at hand, decision-makers should ask themselves the following questions in the sequence they are presented:

  • Quality requirement (QR) – is the nature of the solution critical? Does a solution need to be chosen based on technical, rational, or quality-based grounds?
  • Commitment requirement (CR) – how important is the commitment of subordinates to the decision?
  • Leader’s information (LI) – is there sufficient information for a leader to make a good decision on their own?
  • Problem structure (ST) – is the problem structured? Do alternative courses of action exist? Can these alternatives be evaluated accurately? Is the problem defined, clear, or time-limited?
  • Commitment probability (CP) – is subordinate acceptance integral to the implementation of the solution? In other words, would they be committed to a unilateral decision?
  • Goal congruence (GC) – are subordinates invested in the solution? Do their goals match the goals of the organization?
  • Subordinate conflict (CO) – is there likely to be conflict among subordinates over preferred courses of action?
  • Subordinate information (SI) – lastly, do these subordinates have the requisite information to make an informed, high-quality decision?

Using simple yes or no answers, the decision-maker uses a decision tree to then land on one of five different decision-making options across three different leadership styles.

The five decision-making styles of the Vroom-Yetton model

Once a decision-making option has been identified, the Vroom-Yetton model explains how each leadership style influences the decision-making process. Below we will take a look at how this process plays out in practice.

Autocratic

The autocratic leader makes a decision and tells subordinates after the fact. They use the information at hand to decide on a course of action they deem most appropriate.

The two autocratic options are:

  • Autocratic Type 1 (AI) – a completely autocratic process where the leader makes their own decision based on readily available information.
  • Autocratic Type 2 (AII) – where the leader collects information from subordinates and then makes a decision alone. Subordinates may or may not be notified after the fact.

Consultative

Think of consultative leadership as a lite version of autocratic leadership. Leaders will ultimately make decisions on their own but will first consult with subordinates to hear their input and opinions.

In the Vroom-Yetton model, there are also two consultative options:

  • Consultative Type 1 (CI) – where the leader consults with subordinates on an individual basis to collect information and facilitate input. However, note that there is no requirement for the input to be used to make the final decision. Individual employees do not consult amongst themselves.
  • Consultative Type 2 (CII) – in this case, individuals can consult each other and share possible alternatives. But again, the leader is under no obligation to incorporate collective input into the final decision.

Collaborative

As the name suggests, collaborative leadership involves the leader working with subordinates to choose a group. This is a more time-intensive decision-making approach and should be used for important decisions that do not need to be made immediately.

There is a single collaborative option:

  • Group-based Type 2 (GII) – where the leader looks to the group for consensus via brainstorming and the final decision is made collectively. While the leader is responsible for directing the discussion, they must not under any circumstances try to force their own agenda on subordinates. 

Key takeaways:

  • The Vroom-Yetton decision model is a decision-making tool based on situational leadership.
  • The Vroom-Yetton decision model is based on empirical evidence suggesting that the extent of subordinate participation in decision-making impacts organizational effectiveness.
  • To progress through the Vroom-Yetton decision model, decision-makers (leaders) must use a decision tree containing seven questions with yes or no answers. Depending on the answers given, they will eventually arrive at one of five decision-making styles.

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Outcome Bias

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