Decision Makers and the Zero Sum Game

Decision making need not necessarily be a zero sum game where one party benefits at the expense of the other. For instance, it is common in many organizations for decision makers to favor one group over the other which results in a situation where one group wins and the other group loses. This is the zero sum game hypotheses which indicate that decisions are taken to benefit one group over the other. There is an alternative to this situation and that happens when decision making is done in such a manner that produces synergies instead of losses to one group. The synergies that we are talking about result when decision making is carried out in such a way that the eventual decision takes into account the needs of all groups and produces a result that approximates the sum substance of each of the players’ interests.

The real life models for this can be seen in the way political parties and governmental organizations practice democratic decision making that satisfies to a large extent the aspirations and interests of all the players. This is done by creating resources to meet the demands of the various groups and investing them to the satisfaction of all the parties.

On the other hand, there are instances (especially in the international geopolitical context) where decision making often results in one nation losing out at the expense of another winning. However, even in the international scenario, such a situation can be avoided if the Ricardian principles of free trade are implemented. According to this, a nation that is good at making one particular product can export that and import some other product from another country which it cannot produce on its own.

Of course, decisions often are zero sum games and the point that we are making in this article is that decisions can be taken by finding a common ground where everybody is better off in the end. For instance, by making the parties forego some amount of resources that they would have got out of the outcome, decision makers can ensure a little bit of everything for everybody. The point here is that if we have to navigate the turbulent times of the 21st century, we need everyone to sit together and thrash out their differences and arrive at an understanding. This is the only way in which we are going to survive.

Finally, the vision and leadership qualities of the decision makers often play an important role in determining whether decisions result in zero sum situations or whether they result in everybody winning. The reason being it is the case that when decision makers take decisions that is based on their innate vision and leadership abilities, the result of such decisions often is that all the parties to the case are winners. This is the scenario where statesmen and leaders often take decisions by persuading the parties with their charisma and personality. Though this is the ideal situation that might or not might not manifest in reality, this is something that all of us can aspire to in our lives when we have to take decisions.


❮   Previous  Article Next  Article   ❯


Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)

MSG team comprises experienced faculty and professionals who develop the content for the portal. We collectively refer to our team as - “MSG Experts”. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.