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A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice

Michael D. Cohen, James G. March and Johan P. Olsen
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 17, No. 1 (Mar., 1972), pp. 1-25
DOI: 10.2307/2392088
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2392088
Page Count: 25
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A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice
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Abstract

Organized anarchies are organizations characterized by problematic preferences, unclear technology, and fluid participation. Recent studies of universities, a familiar form of organized anarchy, suggest that such organizations can be viewed for some purposes as collections of choices looking for problems, issues and feelings looking for decision situations in which they might be aired, solutions looking for issues to which they might be an answer, and decision makers looking for work. These ideas are translated into an explicit computer simulation model of a garbage can decision process. The general implications of such a model are described in terms of five major measures on the process. Possible applications of the model to more narrow predictions are illustrated by an examination of the model's predictions with respect to the effect of adversity on university decision making.

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