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The Context of Decision Making at Whole Foods Market

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The Context of Decision Making at Whole Foods Market

The Context of Decision Making at Whole Foods Market

Case 1

Wayne Davis

Question 1: How would you describe the merchandising and operational decisions made by Whole Foods Market in terms of the rational, bounded rationality, and garbage can models of decision making?

According to Nelson & Quick (2006), “The success of any organization depends on managers’ abilities to make effective. An effective decision is timely, is acceptable to the individuals affected by it, and meets the desired objective”. Whole Foods Market employs the use of self directed teams that are empowered to make decisions. Each regional structure of Whole Foods Market has its own decentralized process of making decisions at its stores. In other words decisions are not made from the top down but each store is empowered to make its decisions independently of the other stores. Each community is different, meaning there will be different customer needs, wants, and desires. The decentralized process that Whole Foods Market uses works well for their company. The motto “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet” lends itself to be adaptable wherever their stores are located.

In looking at the various models of decision making, rational, bounded rationality, and the garbage can; let’s first look at what the Whole Foods Market decision-making process is not. In my opinion the Whole Foods Market organization does not base their decisions on the garbage can model. The decisions made by Whole Foods Market are not haphazard or unsystematic. Daft (1995) states that “The garbage can model is a combination of incremental process and Carnegie models, when parts of the decision making process are extremely high uncertainty simultaneous”. The Carnegie model involves organizational level decisions being made by many managers and the decision is made based on a coalition of the managers. The incremental decision process is a more structured approach but it does not include social and political factors.

The rational model is exactly what its name implies. Nelson & Quick (2006), again states that “Rationality refers to a logical step-by-step approach to decision-making, with a thorough analysis of alternatives and consequences”. This model would work if we were in a perfect world. We are limited by our own humanistic limitations and therefore we are not capable of providing true rationality in making our decisions.

Therefore, my opinion is that the Whole Foods Market decision-making process is based on the bounded rationality model. Even though differences exist between the various regions of Whole Foods Market, all teams must adhere to the mission and core values that have been established by the company. Because the teams are self directed and empowered to make decisions, they can base their decisions on each community’s needs, wants, and desires.

Question 2: What role does participation play in the decision-making process at Whole Foods Market?

I believe that employee participation plays a major role in the decision-making process at Whole Foods Market. Again, going back to the motto “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet” shows that there is emphasis on people. This is in line with the fact that people is one of the four components of an open organizational system and a valued resource of an organization. In my own experiences I feel that employee participation plays an important part in our decision making process. When the team is involved in a decision then they can take ownership of it. Participation leads to a stronger commitment by the team and leads to employee satisfaction and increased performance. When a decision needs to be made I usually explain the problem and ask for the teams’ input. This has been effective for me in that my team feels that they are all valued members, their input is valuable, and they will benefit from the decision in some form. I have senior and junior members on my team and each is treated fairly and with respect. In utilizing this method of participation as managers we must be careful not to develop groupthink in our team. We must be careful that the team doesn’t get the one mind approach and other alternatives are excluded from the decision-making process. Whole Foods Market

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