Volume 3, Issue 3
  • ISSN 2352-1805
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1813
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Decision-making is said by researchers from many disciplines to be the outstanding characteristic of modern societies ( Schimank 2005 , 51–53). Yet, a decision’s consequences often seem inconceivable or even absurd to an uninvolved bystander. Sociologists call this phenomenon “decision-making under conditions of limited rationality” ( Schimank 2005 , 127ff.). Examples include parliamentarians passing a law ‘just’ to get it over and done with before an upcoming election; or a buyer under pressure to purchase ‘any machine tool as long as it costs under € 500,000’.

This article takes a closer look at such phenomena, utilizing an empirical, linguistic approach to decision-making and communication. It argues that the most desired options are often the hardest to convey, and the ideas that are realised are often those that are easily expressed and already well-established. This is underlined by previous findings that many institutional outcomes are shaped by momentary (instantaneous) necessities and opportunities (cf. Schimank, 2005 , 27; Zehrer, 2014 ).

The article first gives an overview of previous studies on decision-making from different disciplines. It then sets out to explain in how far decision-making can be considered as ‘translaboration’, a new term introduced in 2015 by researchers from Westminster University in London (cf. Alfer, Cranfield, Kathrani, 2015 ). For the purposes of this article, the concept of ‘translaboration’ shall include first a tacit (from the addressees’ point of view) and non-deliberate (from the acting parties’ point of view) translation-like practice and, secondly, put special emphasis on the multimodal negotiation practice forming the basis of many organisational decisions. Examples from the economic world and politics will be used to demonstrate what the ‘translaboration’ concept means, and how a method rooted in it can reveal practices of organisational decision-making.


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