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Improving decisions in an (ir)rational world

Decision Making in Business and Society

After completing this minor you will better understand human decision making processes and be able to influence human behavior both in the context of organizations and in society at large.

Once you have finished this minor, you will be able to:

- Understand how decisions and behavior are influenced by the physical and social environments and the decision making strategies that are used.

- Based on this knowledge, develop strategies to influence (e.g., through "nudging") the behavior of others in order to achieve business and societal goals, such as increasing sales or reducing environmental pollution.

- Analyze historical and every day examples of leadership in order to improve (your own) leadership skills and the output of teams and organizations.

- Apply negotiation strategies to achieve optimal results in terms of outcomes (distributive negotiations) and relationships among parties involved (integrative negotiations).

- Reflect on the ethical aspects of such influence strategies.

For specific information about the specific course objectives, please visit the study guide.

Overview courses

  • Judgment and Decision Making, Period 1 (6.0 EC)

    Why do people make the decisions they make?

    Most of us like to believe that we are capable of making rational decisions, but how is it then possible that savvy people make ‘foolish’ decisions?

    In fact, whenever we have to take decisions, we often fall short, be it on health, personal finance, public choice, consumer decisions...

    This course provides an overview of scientific research on judgment & decision making, where psychology and economics collide and collaborate to understand human behaviour. It reveals how and when humans deviate from rational thinking, in systematic and often predictable ways and will provide you with the basic knowledge of theories, concepts and methods that is necessary to understand how decisions are made. The course is inspired by the groundbreaking, Nobel-prize winning work of Kahneman and Tversky as well as other seminal work and research programmes of other leading thinkers in the field (and society). We will discuss eye-opening research that documents several well-known biases as well as focus on mental accounting,  loss/gain framing, forecasting, visceral influences, motivated reasoning and (dis)honesty.

  • Leadership: Mobilizing People, Period 1 (6.0 EC)

    Leadership is a subject that has long excited interest among scholars and laypeople alike. The term “leadership” often connotes images of powerful, dynamic individuals who direct corporate empires or shape the course of nations. However, we are confronted with leadership every day: in class, during group assignments, at your job, sports club, student organization, etc. Whether the concern is with a business corporation, a nation, an athletic team, or a team project in class, there seems to be a persistent assumption that the leader has a crucial role in the organization’s or team’s success. This course on leadership, which combines and integrates state of the art leadership theories and research, will help you understand both historical and everyday examples of leadership.

    Leaders must be able to manage information, diagnose problems, negotiate with others, and make effective decisions, as well as coordinate and motivate the human and social capital of their organizational members. This course aims to prepare you to understand and meet these goals by familiarizing you with leadership theories and providing you with practical experiences through case studies and experiential activities.

  • Managing Negotiations: Getting to Yes, Period 2 (6.0 EC)

    Negotiation is all around you, whether it concerns international disputes, labour agreement negotiations, or even a discussion at home about who does the grocery shopping. To reconcile this kind of dilemmas successfully, you have to negotiate. Negotiating is a key communication and influence tool in both your professional and personal life. The overall goal of this course is to become a more effective negotiator, which is able to reach a joint outcome that is optimal for all participants. You cannot become an effective negotiator by studying alone; you will need to practice, experiment and experience. Therefore, throughout the course, we combine theoretical knowledge from the lectures with practical exercises (role-play simulations).

    The three main parts of the course are:

    • Part 1: How to negotiate in a rational and strategic way?
    • Part 2: Which emotional and psychological factors come into play in a negotiation?
    • Part 3: What are the ethical and cultural aspects of negotiating?
  • Nudge: Influencing Behavior, Period 2 (6.0 EC)

    How can you improve the efficiency of towel re-usage programs in hotels? Which incentives help consumers to eat healthier? How can people be motivated to prefer public transport to car travel? How can we make people to follow corona regulations more effectively? 

    These are some of the questions we deal with in the course “Nudging: Influencing behaviour”. As compared to standard economic policies to change people’s behaviour by using incentives or punishment, nudging is a completely new intervention strategy to make people healthier, happier, and wealthier.  It’s the art of influencing people to change habits and make decisions that serve societal and/or commercial goals such as e.g. reducing the number of phone calls to help desks, cutting down on energy use, reducing pollution, stimulating healthy behaviour, etc.

    This course is only accessible for students who have followed the course ‘Judgment & Decision Making’ (course from same minor).

  • Designing Interventions in Business and Society, Period 3 (6.0 EC)

    This integrative project course is the capstone course of the minor “Understanding and Influencing Decisions in Business and Society”. We will use the concept of happiness as a guiding principle for the assignments in the course. What is happiness, and how do we make plans and strategies that ultimately lead to an improvement in happiness. After a brief introduction in which you get acquainted with some of the methods for designing interventions, you start working on an intervention that addresses the real-world challenge of improving happiness within organizations. In this project, you will touch upon (1) design, (2) implementation, and (3) testing/evaluation phases by the development of a strategic plan to achieve your goal. As this is an integrative course, your intervention will be a multi-disciplinary effort, in which you will combine insights on leadership with those on judgment and decision making, nudges and negotiation skills.

    This course is only accessible for students who have followed the preceding 4 courses within this minor.

  • Internship

    This minor contains 5 compulsory courses. Instead of the courses Designing Interventions in Business and Society and Managing Negotiations: Getting to Yes you may choose to do an internship. Note that the internship has to be approved by the minor coordinator in advance.

Amanda Perotti, BSc Public Administration & Organisation Science

Amanda Perotti, BSc Public Administration & Organisation Science

"I followed this minor because I was very interested in how people make decisions and how you can influence these decisions. I was very surprised by how easy it could be to influence certain decisions. Moreover, I improved both my negotiation and leadership skills during this minor as well. I recommend this minor for students who want to learn something that they benefit from in their future career."

Amanda Perotti