Determinants of decision rule use in a production planning task

Fred D. Davis, Jeffrey E. Kottemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


A wide array of decision rules capable of significantly enhancing decision-making performance across a range of tasks has been available for many years. Unfortunately, decision makers have stubbornly resisted using them. The present research investigates factors that might encourage decision rule use. In a simulated production planning task, 157 subjects were offered the recommendations of a simple but powerful decision rule. In the base case, subjects underestimated the usefulness of the rule and were vastly outperformed by it. Two interventions aimed at increasing use of the decision rule were examined: (1) giving subjects explicit feedback comparing their performance with how well they would have done had they used the rule and (2) providing them an explicit description of the rule′s performance benefits. Feedback on performance relative to the rule substantially increased perceived usefulness of the rule, rule-usage behavior, and decision performance. Rule description had a less clear effect. There was no overall significant effect of rule description on perceived usefulness or performance, although there was a significant overall effect on two measures of rule-following behavior. This increased rule-following behavior translated into significant performance improvements for the groups not receiving feedback, but not for the groups receiving feedback. We conclude that showing decision makers the benefits of using a decision rule via explicit aggregate feedback comparing rule and non-rule performance is an effective and underutilized way to increase their perceptions of the rule′s usefulness, their use of the rule, and their decision-making performance. Explicitly describing the performance characteristics is a secondary significant determinant of rule usage, especially recommended in cases where it is not feasible to provide aggregate outcome feedback.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-157
Number of pages13
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1995


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