Course Number:         

Decision Science 6258 

Course Title:

Executive Decision Making/Collaborative Decision Making



Concepts and methods for making complex decisions in business and government; identifying objectives and alternatives, setting priorities, and making collaborative decisions.



Dr. Ernest Forman.  Funger 404. 202-994-6206.


Office Hours:

By Appointment: See


Textbooks / Software:

Forman, Ernest H., and Selly, Mary Ann,  Decision By Objectives, World Scientific Press, 2001, or download from


Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational -- The Hidden Forces That Shape our Decisions,    Harper Perennial, 2010

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Farar, Straus and Giroux, 2011

Richard Thaler, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, 2015

James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, Anchor Books, 2005

Deepak Malhotra and Max Bazerman, Negotiation Genius, Bantam, 2008

Software (to be provided):

Expert Choice Comparion

Course Objectives:

You will learn to:

o Structure complex decision problems, measure, synthesize

o Focus on objectives

o Identify objectives

o Identify alternatives

o Identify constraints

o Incorporate both quantitative and qualitative information in the decision process

o Synthesize knowledge, data and experience

o Include values and politics in the decision process
o Include ethical considerations in the decision process

o Measure, not count

o Appreciate that: “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts”

o Levels of measurement and why numbers are sometimes mathematically meaningless

o Deal with competing factors

o Incorporate ethical considerations in making decisions

o Compare apples and oranges

o Investigate sensitivity of decisions

o Communicate recommendations and rationale

o Convince others your are right

o Deal with group decisions and conflict

o Learn how to communicate better both orally and in writing

o Make effective presentations

Method of Instruction:

Lectures, projects, student presentations.  Students will learn by applying theoretical decision making concepts to real world problems.  The Professor will provide individual guidance throughout the course both during classroom presentations as well as in individual and electronic consultations (e.g., Blackboard and Chat).



(Individual) Quizzes (~20%)
(Group of 2) Real World Decision Project -- PowerPoint presentation and paper
Final Exam

Class Participation ~ if on borderline between two letter grades
   Campus Students -- Classroom discussion and 1 Minute Summaries
   Distance Students -- Blackboard Collaborate and 1 Minute Summaries



See above but note that the percentages are approximate and may be adjusted as per discussion of  prioritization with feedback.




Session/Topic  Note: Summer Session has 6 meetings (weeks) instead of 7 so note the relationship between "Sessions" and Weeks below


Session 1: Sep 1

Introduction to decision making concepts, theory and practice.

Intuition (Emotion) and Reason (Rationality)

Cognitive limitations and bounded rationality

Discussion of Predictably Irrational and Thinking Fast and Slow

Reading: Predictably Irrational and/or Thinking Fast and Slow

Session 2: Sep 8
Introduction to The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP)
Levels of measurement
Pairwise measurement validation exercise
Discussion of decision project
Discussion of The Wisdom of Crowds

Reading The Wisdom of Crowds
Decision by Objectives
: Ch 1-3

Session 3 Sep 15
Background of AHP
Focusing on objectives
Developing a decision model with Comparion
Absolute measurement -- utility curves; step functions
Discussion of decision project proposals

Reading Decision by Objectives, Ch 4
Submit decision project proposals to Blackboard the Monday before class

Session 4: Sep 22
Continue decision modeling techniques
Increasing quality of information

Group decision making and meeting facilitation

Reading Decision by Objectives: Ch 5,6,9

Session 5: Sep 29
Ethics and Ethical Decision Making Models
Dealing with uncertainties; Risk assessment
Relationship of executive decision making and interfaces with other decision models and methods
Other multi objective methodologies; criticisms



Reading Decision by Objectives: Ch 7

Optional: Negotiation Genius

Session 6: Oct 6
Axioms and mathematics of AHP
Introduction to and overview of resource allocation

Project Presentations as time permits

Reading Decision by Objectives: Ch 10
Submit PowerPoint presentation for decision project. Monday before Week 7's class. Provide enough detail for meaningful feedback

Session 7:  Oct 13
Project presentations
Final exam (Following Week 7 Class)






This project is to be completed and presented by students working in groups of 2 (individual projects or larger groups may be allowed depending on circumstances). Each project will address an important, interesting and complex real world decision.

The project  will involve a business, political or societal REAL WORLD (alternative selection) decision, evaluated from the perspective of a specific decision maker(s).  The anticipated impact of the project on the organization is important in choosing a topic. 

Project Report Requirements and Guidelines

The following guidelines may help you in selecting and organizing your real world projects and papers:


Timeline for Decision Project:
After Session 2: Brainstorm for project ideas
Between Sessions 2 and 3: Post ideas to Blackboard and form partnerships
and submit decision project proposals to Blackboard
Between Sessions 2 and 3 receive my feedback and revise and resubmit if necessary
After Session 3: Structure Comparion Decision Project; Complete Monday before Session 4
Receive feedback about your decision project structure and begin eliciting judgments (measurement,  synthesis, iteration) after responding to my feedback if necessary.
Request feedback for your project/results as soon as possible and receive my feedback.

Prepare PowerPoint presentation (enough for meaningful feedback) and submit Monday before Session 7
Submit papers after Session 7.



Code of Academic Integrity Agreement

Students are expected to adhere to the Code of Academic Integrity as defined below:

Section 1: Definition of Academic Dishonesty

(a) Academic dishonesty is defined as cheating of any kind, including misrepresenting one's own work, taking credit for the work of others without crediting them and without appropriate authorization, and the fabrication of information.

(b) Common examples of academically dishonest behavior include, but are not limited to, the following:

1)      Cheating - intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise; copying from another student's examination; submitting work for an in-class examination that has been prepared in advance; representing material prepared by another as one's own work; submitting the same work in more than one course without prior permission of both instructors; violating rules governing administration of examinations; violating any rules relating to academic conduct of a course or program.

2)      Fabrication - intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any data, information, or citation in an academic exercise.

3)      Plagiarism - intentionally representing the words, ideas, or sequence of ideas of another as one's own in any academic exercise; failure to attribute any of the following: quotations, paraphrases, or borrowed information.

4)      Facilitating academic dishonesty - intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty.