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Judgment Uncertainty and Decisions

School of Business, The George Washington University

MBAD 6221

Spring 2015 Module I (January 15-Mar 5)

Virtual Meeting Day of Week: Thursday

Blackboard Collaborate Sessions Monday following each class but may vary depending on student needs and availability



Name: Ernest Forman

Title: Professor of Decision Sciences

Phone number: 202-994-6206 or 571-969-5255


Office Hours: By appointment

Biographical Information, publications, etc..


Prerequisites: None.

Course Description: Classical theories of decision making; recent findings on human cognitive limitations and biases. Analytical approaches useful in cases involving uncertainty, multiple objectives, and multiple stakeholders.


Course Objectives: Students will learn how to incorporate both qualitative and quantitative considerations in making important decisions.  This will involve focusing on objectives, incorporating ethical considerations, structuring complexity, deriving measures for the importance of objectives and preferences for alternatives, synthesizing and iterating.


Required Texts:

Forman, Ernest H., and Selly, Mary Ann,  Decision By Objectives, World Scientific Press, 2001,
ISBN 9789810241438
 or download chapters from


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

Recommended Texts:

Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, Anchor Books, 2005

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

Levitin, Daniel J., The Organized Mind -- Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, Pengui, 2014


The Analytic Hierarchy Process An Exposition, Operations Research, 2001, 49(4)469-486

A Novel Computer Based Expert Decision Making Model for Prostate Cancer Disease Management, The Journal of Urology, Volume 175, Issue 5.
Video to show how to access the article:

You will have to log in to gelman as part of the process to retrieve the article.  To do this. refer to:

Case: Decision Making at the Top: The all-Star Sports Catalog Division

Blog: Decision Science Roles in Medical Decision Making

Technology Requirements:


Blackboard Collaborate Sessions

Software to be provided:

Expert Choice Comparion


Course Calendar:

Virtual class dates (Thursday’s):

1 – Jan 14

2 – Jan 21

3 – Jan 28

4 – Feb 4

5 – Feb 11

6 – Feb 18

7 – Feb 25

 Note: The 'virtual class' is virtual -- it does not exist.  Thursday marks the day of the week when the course would meet, if it were given on campus.  In our case, we don't meet, but it is the day when the class materials are made available via Blackboard.

The Blackboard Collaborate sessions on Monday are like office hours.  They are optional, but highly recommended.




Class # 1

Overview of decision processes and methods;

Predictably Irrational

DBO Ch 1,2, 3( pp 37-40)


Choice Decisions:

Structuring complexity; objectives, alternatives;

Participants (Governance, roles),

Politics and Ethics

DBO Ch 3 pp 27-31; Ch 4; Ch 5


Measurement: Pairwise; Evaluation; Synthesis, Sensitivity; Iteration

DBO Ch 3 pp 32-37


Absolute measurement; rating scales; utility curves; step functions

DBO Ch 6 to pp 174


Resource Allocation Decisions I


DBO Ch 8


Resource Allocation II




Assignment/Deliverables Calendar: 

 (I: individual, G: group)


Due Date

I: Weekly Quizes 20 points After Classes 2,3,4,5,6)

I: Read Predictably Irrational 10 points

500 word max paper discussing relationship to what is covered in course

(Individual) 500 word paper due Week following Class 5.
Submit in Blackboard

G5: All Star Sports Case (10 points)

5 person group.

Start doing in Week of Class 2;

Models (In Comparion) and PPT due – end of week 4
Submit PPT in Blackboard Assignment.
Submit once per group.

G2:Choice Decision Project (40 points)

The decision should be real (as opposed to hypothetical), important (rather than trivial).  Try to think of important or controversial decisions in your workplace.  Avoid decisions that have already been made. 

2 Person Group.

Weeks 3 – 5;

Proposals due end of week 3

PPT and models due Week 5; Paper due end of week 7 or middle of following week.
Submit in Blackboard Group Discussion Forum.

I: Final Exam (20 points)

Sunday of Week 7 through following Sunday



Grading Policy:


95 to 100 A
90 to 94 A-
85 to 89 B+
80 to 84 B
70 to 79 B-
60 to 69 C+
30 to 59 C


A – Excellent

B – Good

C – Polite Failure

+ and – grades as well.

(Contrary to the registrar’s interpretation of letter grades, in most graduate courses an A grade is considered to be about 100 times better than a grade of C).



Academic Integrity


The George Washington University Code of Academic Integrity:


Academic Integrity—The University community, in order to fulfill its purposes, must establish and maintain guidelines of academic behavior. All members of the community are expected to exhibit honesty and competence in their academic work. Incoming students have a special responsibility to acquaint themselves with, and make use of, all proper procedures for doing research, writing papers, and taking examinations. Members of the community will be presumed to be familiar with the proper academic procedures and held responsible for applying them. Deliberate failure to act in accordance with such procedures will be considered academic dishonesty. Acts of academic dishonesty are a legal, moral, and intellectual offense against the community and will be prosecuted through the proper University channels. Copies of the University Code of Academic Integrity can be obtained from all department chairs, all academic deans, the Registrar, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.


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