Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-making Model of Leadership

Technical | Pro's & Con's | Overview | Discussion | Decision Tool | Critique | Future

Technical Details

Name(s): Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-making Model of Leadership
Author: Victor Vroom and Philip Yetton, and later, Arthur Jago
Classification: Contingency Theories
Year: Victor Vroom and Philip Yetton in 1973; Arthur Jago added to theory in 1988

Pro's

  • The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-making Model of Leadership is highly flexible with respect to the choices a leader can make in effecting decisions. The range is from highly dictatorial to democratic.
  • The method has a mechanical procedure to arrive at a decision making process.
  • The idea of a procedure like this can be seen as "objective", that the results were not arrived at by a non-specific method.

Con's

  • It is questionable whether this model can be used in large groups.
  • The decision procedure may be too mechanical and note take into account subtleties in decision making, such as changing emotions and, for that matter change, in general.
  • The questions may not be precise enough and sufficiently contextual, as in "Is the quality of the decision important?" "Important to whom or what and in what time frame" are the questions.

Overview

The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-making Model of Leadership focuses upon decision making as how successful leadership emerges and progresses. The parameters shaping a decision are quality, commitment of group or organization members, and time restrictions. There are a number of leadership styles ranging from authoritarian to highly participatory. In 1988, Vroom and Jago created a mathematical expert system as a decision-making device in their work Leadership and Decision Making. This addition of Jago renamed the original theory to the theory, with its variants being Vroom-Yetton, Vroom-Jago, and Vroom-Yetton-Jago.

Discussion

The central focus of the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-making Model of Leadership is to assess how the nature of the group, leader, and situation determine the degree to which the group is to be included in the decision-making process. This is accomplished by a flowchart-style decision making procedure that arrives at a style of decision-making. These styles are autocratic, consultative, and group. The autocratic essentially is a dictator, taking her or his cue from Transactional Leadership methods, which, in essence say that the leader tells the group, "obey". The consultative approach has the leader going to the group for suggestions on how to carry out tasks. The "group" method of decision making is the most democratic, where the group ultimately makes the decision.

The theory states that there can be many styles of leadership and no one type fits all situations, thus making this a Contingency Theory. A leader sizes up a situation, assesses the situation facing the group, determines how much support the group will give to the effort, and then effect a style of leading. There is a mechanical process to do this involving seven questions and decision points. An interactive version of the model is provided below. I would however caution anyone who uses it to use good judgment with regards to the recommended style to use.

THE VROOM-JETTON-JAGO-DECISION MODEL

1. Is the quality of the decision important? Yes No

From this emerges a decision making style or leadership style, as indicated by the following. A leader asks what decision was made and how it was made, backtracking through the steps in making it and then to the original problem and how to solve it. The following is a standard chart displaying the range of decision-making modes.

Leadership Style Description
Autocratic (A1) Using an autocratic style of leadership, the leader will make the decision by himself or herself, using the information readily available.
Autocratic (A2) Using a less stringent autocratic leadership style, the leader will consult the group members to gain more informations, then will make the decision himself or herself. The final decision may or may not be shared with the group.
Consultative (C1) Using a consultative leadershi style, the leader will consult individuals to seek their opinion. The leader will make the decision himself or herself.
Consultative (C2) Using a consultative leadership style, the leader will consult the group to seek individual opinions and suggestions. The leader will make the decision himself or herself.
Collaborative (G2) Using a collaborative leadership style, the group will make the decision. The leader will play a supportive role to ensure that everyone agrees on the decision.

Critique

The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-making Model of Leadership is quite mechanical, so mechanical that it may overlook subtleties, such as the psychological make-up of the leader, complexity of tasks, emotions of the group, vagueness of the terms (such as "importance" and "quality"), and dynamics. There is an issue with the validity of the model; it hasn't been tested adequately [1]. The force of decision maker is leader-oriented and there is inadequate attention paid to leader-led interactions. While there is a provision for decision-making ultimately for democratic participation, the emphasis is on decision-making and emanating initially from the leader.

Where is the provision that the group, itself, may want to initiate decision-making? Group dynamics can be quite complicated, and it is not always clear on how decisions should be made or whether one is required. Perhaps only a group interaction is needed.

While the model gives a specified decision-making procedure, there are situations in which there may not be enough time to apply the model, such as in emergencies or where there are other situations that constrain time. Further, not every leader is predisposed or wanting to have a decision-making method thrust upon them. It is true that a well-defined procedure can help and be presented as an objective method, but it may be deemed too mechanical and a "one size fits all" straightjacket.

Future of theory

The latter renditions of the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-making Model of Leadership look more towards expert systems methods for applying it. Even newer techniques in artificial intelligence may be considered such as neural networks and fuzzy set theory. It is not inconceivable that there can be a complete automation of the theory. As with other theories validation becomes a concern, and the human behavior components of the theory may be validated by cognitive neuroscience techniques, among the major ones being brain scans.

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