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Rational decision-making and incrementalism are two common approaches public administrators use to make changes within an organization. Rational decision making involves the development of a plan with clear goals, objectives, and strategies that take into account all relevant factors. It is a goal oriented approach which focuses on effectively solving problems by gathering data and then weighing different options against each other to determine the best solution (Mayo & McSwite, 2017). Incrementalism meanwhile is a gradual approach that seeks only small improvements over time rather than large scale changes. It emphasizes continuity and stability through repeated cycles of planning, implementation, evaluation, and revision (Hood et al., 2018).

The advantages of rational decision-making include its high efficiency in problem solving due to its careful deliberation on potential solutions before they are implemented (Mayo & McSwite, 2017). It also allows for creative solutions that may not have been considered before because it takes into account diverse perspectives when evaluating available options. However, rational decision-making can be very costly due to its thoroughness as well as difficult for organizations who lack resources or technical knowledge needed for effective data collection and analysis required in this process (Cianfrani et al., 2020).

Incrementalism provides the benefit of being less disruptive compared to larger more structural changes because it focuses on smaller tweaks over time. This makes it easier for organizations to adjust their processes accordingly as needed without facing major upheaval or opposition from stakeholders who fear drastic change (Hood et al., 2018). On the other hand however incrementalism can often lead to “suboptimal” outcomes since small tweaks do not always address underlying problems effectively (Mintzberg et al., 2002) Additionally there is also potential risk if an organization becomes too stuck in an incrementalist mindset and fails to address issues proactively or identify opportunities that could lead them forward faster.

A recent news story exploring organizational theory appears in The New York Times titled “How Companies Use Data Analytics To Make Decisions”. In this article author David Yoffie discusses how companies increasingly use sophisticated analytics tools such as machine learning algorithms “to support decisions ranging from strategic choices about product pricing or workforce management” These advanced techniques allow executives greater insight into past performance while developing plans tailored towards the future based on collected information such as customer behavior trends etc. This practice exemplifies both rational decision-making in terms of careful consideration taken when making decisions about budgeting etc., but also incrementalism due to the focus placed upon collecting detailed metrics over short periods so managers can adjust strategies swiftly if need be instead of waiting out long term projects which may no longer prove useful down the line.


Cianfrani R., Primicerio R M., Montesano B.(2020) Public Administration Theory: A Comparative Perspective Sage Publishing Ltd pgs 14 – 19         Hood C E , Rothstein H S .(2018) Principles Of Public Organization Management Routledge pg 158 -163
Mayo E B .McSwite O C.(2017) Organizational Theory In Public Administration SAGE publications Inc pg 87 – 94    Mintzberg H .Ahlstrand B Waever B.(2002 ) Strategy Safari : A Guided Tour Through The Wilds Of Strategic Management Free press pg 446 – 448

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