Re: grid as decision making aid

Devi Jankowicz (
Fri, 14 May 1999 15:37:08 +0000

Robert Mole writes:

> I am researching the grid in its capacity as a decision making and
>solving aid. A very useful starting point for my work has been Shaw and
>McKnight's (1981/1992) book THINK AGAIN.

It would be a good idea to contact Colin Eden at Strathclyde University.
He and his team have been using both repertory grid, and a form of
directed graph, for group-based problem solving and decision making.
Patrick Humphreys has also used grids, combined with multiattribute
decision theory-based approaches, in this field of application.

You can find an extended, albeit rather dated, discussion of these and
related authors in:

Jankowicz A.D. "Applications of personal construct psychology in business
practice" in Neimeyer G. & Neimeyer R. (eds.) _Advances in Personal
Construct Psychology_ vol.1, 1990, Greenwich Conn: JAI Press.

Something which wasn't particularly dealt with in that chapter was the
use in market research, new product development, and quality control. In
the former two instances, a useful approach is to provide an "ideal"
element and analyse the grids for elements which cluster around that
ideal. Just this technique was used, for example, to identify the
evaluative dimensions people use when tasting cheese, and to design a new
cheese which actually went into production on the Irish domestic market!

O'Cinneide B. _The Case for Irish Enterprise_ Dublin: Enterprise
Publications 1986

(or contact me for an offprint if you can't get hold of it. In case
you're wondering, a set of 11 existing cheeses was used in several taste
panels and analysed with each cheese as an element in a set of individual
grids. Matches for the sample as a whole against ratings on the "My ideal
cheese" element identifed the desired properties of the new cheese, the
nearest existing one being Taleggio, an Italian one. The new cheese went
into production using the same bacteria used in the production of
Taleggio, but it was difficult to get the texture and taste just right
and so, though sales were reasonable, insufficient funding was available
for the further development of the production technique and the cheese is
no longer produced.)

I believe that Laurie Thomas has written about other situations, such as
tea-blending, where the grid is enormously useful in identifying the
evaluative dimensions which people use when making decisions whose basis
is not self-evident: an attribute of surprisingly many quality control
situations. He has also written a series of books in which the focus is
on improving the _personal_ decision making process: see, for example,
Thomas L.D. & Harri-Augstein, S. _Self-Organised Learning_ London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul 1985
the only one I have to hand as I write (though there have been several
others more recently).

Indeed, you can see many performance appraisal situations in that light,
(supervisory and managerial jobs in particular), and grids are used
extensively in the design of appraisal systems: though this is perhaps
moving too far away from your original intention?

One final suggestion: bank commercial lending decisions, and venture
capital investment decision making, have also been studied using the
grid. Have a look at:

Jnakowicz A.D. "Intuition in small business lending decisions" _Journal
of Small Business Management_ 1987, 25, 3, 45-52.
Hisrich R.D. & Jankowicz A.D. "Intuition in venture capital decisions: an
exploratory study using a new technique" _Journal of Business Venturing_
1990, 5, 1, 49-62.

Kind regards,

Devi Jankowicz