Fisher’s Decision Emergence Theory

Fisher's Theory

A keen observation of how members of a workgroup come to making decisions that push a project forward, Irving Fisher’s theory of Decision Emergence is one to take note of.

No matter what industry or company, projects and deadlines come hand-in-hand with the daily work schedule for most of us. More often than not, tasks need to be undertaken by more than one person. However, forming a workgroup is one thing, but when and how does progress begin? We’re going to look at Fisher’s theory and how he analysed the process of decision-making in groups.

Who Was Irving Fisher?

Born in 1867, Irving Fisher was a sometimes-contro­ver­sial figure throughout his life, but nevertheless contributed massively to the field of economics and financial theory. His ideas were held in high regard during the first years of the 20th century; however, he would suffer a blow to his reputation when predicting that the stock market had reached its "peak plateau", just a week before the Great Depression of 1929 occurred. The crash caused a financial ripple across the US and the world.

However, his follow-up theory on debt deflation and the reasons why the Wall Street Crash happened brought him back into favour. Even to this day, ideas he contributed to such as the “Chicago Plan” are still discussed by orga­nisa­tions like the Inter­national Monetary Fund. Although never published, his contri­butions to the idea as well as his own financial theories have propelled Fisher to being recognised as one of the most successful economists in American history.

What is Fisher’s Theory of Decision Emergence?

When it comes to work projects, members of a group need to engage and pass a number of different phases before thorough and accurate decision-making can take place. The phases are described as:

1. Orientation

This is when the group itself is formed. At this stage, issues between group members can also arise due to unfa­mili­arity or previous tensions. Commu­nica­tion is absolutely key at this stage as well, so that participants can get to know each other and create a standard of commu­nica­tion. This will set the foundation for the rest of the project, including limitations, rules and good practices that should be considered.

2. Conflict

A “make-or-break” phase of the process, this is where ideas are discussed between members of the group. Conflict may arise if the proponents of one idea refuse to budge or take on board other ideas and comments. However, if Orientation is successful, the negative impact of conflict will be minimised. If not, conflict has the potential to carry on throughout the process, hindering results.

3. Emergence

As the name suggests, this is where the emergence of a plan or idea comes from Conflict. At this point, personal ideas and beliefs need to be set aside to prioritise the overall success of the group task. Those who are happy with the direction of the project and the decisions being made should take a step back to allow others to contribute as well.

4. Rein­for­cement

At this final phase, members of the workgroup need to commit to the ideas presented and conform to following the plan set in place in order to achieve the overall goal. Whether individuals agree entirely or not, at this stage, everyone in the group will need to collaborate and work to the best of their abilities. Motivation to complete the project is also key.

Conclusion to Fisher's Theory

In almost all scenarios, the main issue that groups can run into is conflict between parti­cipants. Whether that’s over personal reasons or directly related to the project and decisions being made, this is one of the main factors that will halt progress from one phase to the other. Likewise, the less conflict that comes up in previous phases, the smoother the rest of the process is likely to go.

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