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The nature and value of common sense to decision making
Department of Management Engineerig, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine, from management perspective, the nature of common sense, its application in decision-making, and possibility of developing common sense more effectively. Design/methodology/approach – To take typical dictionary deﬁnitions of common sense, understand, from management perspective, the different aspects of the nature of common sense, analyze how these properties affect different applications of common sense in decision making process. To cite available literature to support or explain points made, and make a parallel comparison to intuition and decision making where appropriate because of their similarity to certain extent. Findings – The paper provides how to understand properties of common sense from managerial perspective, analyzes its value in aiding decision making, explains how mangers utilize common sense of target group or employees for decision making and creativity, and proposes some points for boosting development of common sense. Practical implications – The paper points out possible different utilization of common sense for decision making. Common sense can be used for innovation. An effective strategy for innovation is not to launch sounds-big innovation programs, but to respect and trust your employees to allow them freedom of expression of common sense and uncommon sense. Originality/value – The paper suggests that common sense may involve tacit knowledge, often is a mix of personal experience and social communication, often comprises hard part and soft part, and can be used for creativity. The paper explains why there exist opposite opinions on common sense approach. These have not been seen in existing literature. Keywords Decision making, Psychology, Managers, Design and development Paper type Viewpoint
Nature and value of common sense
Common sense is a commonly used term, and is taken as self-evident, even for research in the management ﬁeld. Having searched available literature about common sense, I have found most of the literature makes references to common sense without explanation. There has been very little serious examination of common sense in managerial decision. This paper tries, from management perspective, to look into the nature of common sense, how it can aid decision making, and if there is any possibility to develop it effectively. What is common sense? On the web page of “common sense” of answers.com, I ﬁnd three deﬁnitions: (1) Answers: Sound judgment not based on specialized knowledge; native good judgment. (2) Thesaurus: The ability to make sensible decisions: judgment, sense, wisdom. (3) Wikipedia: Common sense (or, when used attributively as an adjective, commonsense, common-sense, or commonsensical), based on a strict
Management Decision Vol. 47 No. 3, 2009 pp. 441-453 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0025-1747 DOI 10.1108/00251740910946705
or are believed to have by the person using the term. or based on a knowledge held or believed to be held by most people. without citing argumentations from philosophy or psychology because I ﬁnd they provide more controversies than relevancy to understanding of managerial issues. Where does common sense come from? How did we acquire our common sense? The answer is not that straightforward. imitating others. but based upon what is believed to be knowledge held by people “in common”. 1.MD 47. It is a good judgment. I intend to focus on how to understand the nature of common sense. . so: the knowledge and experience most people have. The nature of common sense While searching for literature related to common sense. only able to move aimlessly or meaninglessly. the deﬁnitions of common sense give us a general outline of what common sense is.3 442 construction of the term. There are certain philosophical and psychological researches. what is good or sensible? Is your “sensible” the same as mine? My sensible judgment and decision may. which. he or she is taught to eat. hearing. and do not cause particular difﬁculty for use of the concept because we have seen similar circumstance in social sciences. who knows nearly nothing about how to interact with the outside world. Individually. These slightly different deﬁnitions reﬂect three essential points about common sense. sensing the things around us and trying to understand their meaning to us is the only route for us to acquire knowledge about them and judgment for how to interact with them. Say. From knowledge of statistics. pain. it is shared or believed to be shared by a social group: most people or a special circle. in your opinion. not be sensible. it is a native. All normal humans have senses of sight. we know that individual variations tend to form a dominant opinion not a common one. without dependence upon esoteric knowledge or study or research. temperature. also with many less rigorous concepts. taste. and trying on their own. which are distant from management research. touch. I found that nearly all literature in management ﬁeld uses common sense as self-evident concept rather than examine it carefully. to sit and walk. Look at a newborn baby. an ability or wisdom. Gradually. to speak. It is extremely rare to see everybody agrees. Although the deﬁnitions provide the conception of common sense. etc. is what people in common would agree: that which they “sense” in common as their common natural understanding. smell. There are two basic routes to acquire it: individual experience and either intentional or unintentional social sharing. continues to advance. our perceptions and understanding of the things around us and the relationship between them and to us originate from our sensing and interacting with them. and subject to question. Some use the phrase to refer to beliefs or propositions that in their opinion they consider would in most people’s experience be prudent and of sound judgment. Despite the weaknesses. They learn how to interact with the outside through being taught. On our own. even stupid. Sensibility may vary among individuals. As the baby grows. natural. they are not up to scientiﬁc rigor.
we want to know or others want to share with us. social events. wanting more. Some common senses are universally same. and as a result of this exploration we knew it can stop our hunger. actually we would ﬁnd it hard to live in complete isolation. just feeling that many people I meet know. But how many knows is regarded as “common”? We do not have accurate idea. In fact. and our knowledge may come from family. Did we know what to eat and how much to eat when we were born? We did not know although we have physiological capacity to feel hungry or full. How many knows is regarded as common sense and how similar the common sense is? Common sense is dominant majority of similar experiences or pure beliefs among a group. comfortable. which may vary from pure experience to pure social communication. Some common senses have solid part and soft part. Nitecki (1987) points out that “Many intellectuals. “Common” does not mean universal and uniform. How similar are my sense and yours? It depends. Common sense can vary from completely solid to very soft with only small part solid. 644). minor differences are rich. common sense can exhibit its social power.” (p. like the fact that the sum of angles of a triangle is 1808. the other is variation. work. A sense is a kind of effectiveness of our action. so does the sense of how much to eat. The sense of what to eat is acquired from experience. or just by inference. It is hard to cut clear between the routes of individual experience and social communication. To see the two sides of common sense. Only once or individual sense is surely not counted as common sense. We ate one potato. it was a great exploration. as well as managers. two. thus varying with personal experience. the ability of as simple as eating is not born with. A piece of knowledge often is a kind of mix of social communication and individual experience. Nature and value of common sense 443 . In addition to individual experience. Say. People all over the world who are math literate know exactly the same. Exploration of unknown objects gave us knowledge. media. how do I know what I know is a common sense instead of special knowledge belonging to me or certain few people only? I can feel “everybody knows” by having heard or seen repeatedly. these different feelings of eating different amounts gave us a sense of what is right amount to eat. three. Some knowledge is intentionally transmitted. some unintentionally or even without our awareness. intentional or unintentional social sharing is also an important route. education. overfed. formal or informal groups. When we ﬁrst drank milk or ate potato. Some common senses. will point to possibility of its different utilization. for the nature of majority. who in the past ignored or tried to bypass the authority of the ofﬁcial common sense doctrines paid highly for their disrespect. Perhaps 50 per cent of the population should be the baseline. We are tied together with variety of visible and invisible links. Our senses build up with more concrete experiences. Say it is hot in summer in Australia is a common sense because all Australians can feel that and we can infer that from our common geographical knowledge that Australia is located in hot region. a reliable link between things we do. especially those peer public beliefs have obvious variations because of different personal interpretations. As an individual. etc. 2.they know more and more about how to interact with people and things around them and get used to their acquired behavioral patterns. one is majority. a sense. We do not live alone.
Perhaps we can call common sense prescience phase of knowledge. The change is so slow that it seems inert.MD 47. and was at the time called by Times of London “an affront to common sense” (p. Differences between common senses. how many heresies eventually became accepted as common sense? We can name a lot. Tacit knowledge is difﬁcult to share because of unawareness and expression difﬁculty. Common sense often involves tacit knowledge For those common senses about doing something. or vice versa. Applied to improper situation or context. experience. viewed scientiﬁcally. it is helpful if we compare with related concepts: experience. Common sense. common sense may lead to mistakes or failure. even unaware to us. Nitecki (1987) states that “it is a rule rather than exception that common sense opposes any radical departures from commonly held beliefs. But the change will be dramatic over time. Looking back upon the history. Some safety principles are counterintuitive. knowledge and intuition In understanding the nature of common sense. complicated to tell. Public beliefs cannot be substantiated. Common sense can be misleading also because of intuition limits. Common sense in business practice in the West is not necessarily the one in the East. Experience is a major source of . transmitted around is only part of knowledge that can be transmitted. 640). even turning to the side it once opposed. Effective transfer of tacit knowledge generally requires extensive personal contact and trust. But it may be misleading because limited experience may be not adequate to guarantee its validity for wider application: perhaps past successes might just be happenstances and the exact conditions for its application have not identiﬁed. Common sense can be effective and fallible Experience-derived common sense is proven in practice and can be valid when applied in similar situations. A deﬁnition of common sense attributed to Albert Einstein states: “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen. By intuition. Common sense is in gradual change Common sense changes gradually because the world we live in is always in change and science and technology is always in progress. and is prone to be fallible. One of scientist and philosopher Polanyi’s famous aphorisms is: “We know more than we can tell. For example.3 444 3. Tacit knowledge is valuable because it tacitly determines performance of our explicit knowledge. but we know how and can do. well reasoned essay many of the accepted common sense ideas about time and space. we seldom can correctly understand operation of a complex technological and/or social system. is often coarsely correct. and the slight but gradual change may rust your common sense if you do not keep up with the change.” 5. Stagnancy of common sense may present an obstacle for managers to overcome. Some common senses are dependent on situation or cultural context. Tragedy of commons is an example that individuals can not judge the result of a complex social interaction. 4. knowledge and intuition.” The remaining untransmitted part is tacit knowledge. Einstein’s dissertation about relativity overturned in a short.
What role can common sense play in helping make decision? The easy way to understand what and how common sense help us in making decision is to compare those with common sense and those without. we would select the route less crowded because we know which roads are likely to be jammed and should be avoided. 1987. But I waited over an hour to see him. and common sense is of social nature. I do not understand why Simon is certain that good judgment is frozen rapid response. How one’s common sense can help oneself make decision and how a manager uses common sense of employees or other groups for managerial decision. but common sense stays within much narrower range. By contrast. 63). it is hard to prevent a person from using common sense. Common sense provide a general map of interrelationship of things we are dealing with. a “baby or slow” intuition. The depth of knowledge and common sense are different too. I estimated he could get to my place in about half hour allowing for the rush hours. but common sense is socially transmittable experience or knowledge. I basically agree with Simon that “Intuition and judgment – at least good judgment – are simply analyses frozen into habit and into the capacity for rapid response through recognition” (Simon.common sense while common sense is not necessarily experience. but with the basis Nature and value of common sense 445 . quite frustrated. Intuition is the unconscious operation in the brain that is formed by freezing or setting sensing and judgmental process. common sense can be regarded as early stage of intuition. Let’s consider from the two perspectives. common sense is often not only knowledge. 1. Without hesitation. Common sense provides basic logic map for personal judgment and decision Every body uses more or less his/her common sense for solving problems or making decision. and can be called “direct sense” imitating wording of common sense. and with them we can quickly get to possible course of action. who phoned me when he entered the city. and drove by trial and error. The course of action common sense presents is not always complete and detailed. intuition varies greatly from bare basic sensing like seeing to very complicated judgment like physician’ s instant judgment of disease of a patient. common sense usually does not repeat itself so many times to attain such efﬁciency. neither very low nor advanced. Suppose we are going to pick up someone at down town and there are several routes to get there. Another major difference is that intuition is always individual. And experience is individual behavior. I once waited for a visiting friend. and what if going this way or that way. perhaps a good mood. it will give idea of which direction is what. In fact. In terms of response efﬁciency. Knowledge can be low or advanced. p. but also means a mental power to make practical or sound judgment. While a non-local driver would have difﬁculty in choosing suitable roads and the result is waste of time. Without common sense about the city. As for knowledge. Intuition acts like other basic human senses and can contribute to the formation of common sense. The value of common sense in managerial decision Common sense is individual and also social. Intuition is perception without conscious thinking process. either by natural mental capacity or by inference based on certain knowledge. I think either good or bad is. he had no idea how to choose suitable route. and may include simple thinking process.
it will be misused. and good intuitive decision making only comes when it is based on a solid foundation of hard fact – gathering and a balanced emotional assessment of all the options”(Morgan. common sense is a good guide and benchmark for decision making. we can seek supplemental information to make up a complete course more efﬁciently. Similarly. Common sense combined with analysis yields higher quality of decision making Suppose you have common sense about a ﬁeld. editor to Harvard Management Communication Letter. looking at the relationship of intuition and decision making would be helpful to understanding that of common sense and decision making.3 446 of common sense. 645). Nitecki (1987) writes: “If a common sense approach suggests a solution similar to the one intended in the ﬁrst place. But the logic map of common sense may be misleading if applied inappropriately. 646). advises: So beware the blandishments of those who would urge you to trade in the discipline of hard thinking for the apparent ease of the whims of your gut. make thorough analysis. Common sense is more suitable for operational decision making. if the common sense notion seems to be irrelevant to the situation at hand. common sense is especially applicable to operational decision making. In fact the real danger is lack of awareness to the misuse of common sense. and should be used with caution for strategic decision making With its experiential nature. Nick Morgan. Another reason is that tacit knowledge of common sense acquired from working experience can play its full potential with operational . Decision making is more about exceptions rather than existing established operations. and weigh alternatives. or as an unscrutinized source of data needed to make the decisions. Why? As discussed previously. Common sense accepted on its face value and in isolation from that process is of little. conﬁrming or warning us. 2001. if incorporated in that decision process. always seek further relevant information. Although possibility of mistakes still exist. which will challenge your common sense. Nitecki (1987) concludes “that the real value of common sense to the managers is not to serve as a substitute for a decision making process. but has its own limitations. but as a part of a much more complex process of knowing. 11). But common sense alone is often not enough for a solid decision. p. The two go together. When necessary and possible. The map of common sense offers may act as reference to check our contemplated decision against.MD 47. Another reason is that we cannot afford to risk decision directed only by common sense when the action and result is liable to serious injuries or loss. In discussing the intuition and decision making. If common sense is regarded as “slow” or “baby” intuition. 2. we know that common sense can be effective and fallible. And ﬁnally. combined with analysis will yield better decision. it provides a reinforcement for that decision. that is the best we can do under the circumstance.” (p. if any utility to any administrator” (p. even though you are a veteran. it is always there aiding you whenever being called upon. which involves many similar contexts and activities because operations usually repeats a lot. if it negates it. the common sense advice serves as a warning of probable negative consequences of implementing that decision. 3.
. . especially when making strategic decisions” (p. which features of the product should be emphasized? Of course it has to do with target buying groups. 29). . please ask yourself: is the description attractive to your target group? It depends on their common sense. but is far too limited for a sound decision. For example. Sometimes. Common sense is competent in experiential domain. Strategic decision making needs to integrate requirements and constraints in many aspects of a decision issue. This is especially necessary in safety management. Their common sense about the product and your emphasized features has the authority of whether to let your information in for serious consideration. Never make decision in isolation from people’s common sense. The effective way is to reeducate employees so that their common sense converges to the scientiﬁcally tested procedure. say a new model of computer: it has two-core CPU. Translate your product into customer’s common sense so that they can give you a chance to consider your product.]” “[. “[. Hard facts and thorough analyses usually should play a bigger role in strategic decision making. thus discounting power and validity of common sense. surfacing existing knowledge for thorough examination is crucial [. Common sense is not very effective in strategic decision making is because of the gap between the competence of common sense and the requirements of strategic decision making. Looking at intuition’s role in strategic decision making would be informative. Consider and utilize others’ common sense in decision making While our own common sense can aid or admonish us in judgment and decision making.60 GHz. can run at the speed of 1. we can consider and utilize employee’s or other group’s common sense in making decision. . Nature and value of common sense 447 . and if ignored you would meet resistance. It is useless to complain that people don’t understand your product. intuition presents itself as a troubling tool” (p. 28). Common sense has tacit social authority.decision making. Miller and Ireland (2005) conclude “we hope that executives and managers will use intuition selectively and cautiously. where improper job behavior may cause serious injuries and damages. that is the reality you need to work with. whereas strategic decision making usually is about long-term operations of a complex social. the tacit knowledge may not match well. and are difﬁcult to manage with today’s science and technology. Respect power of common sense dwelling among people.] Our analysis suggests that despite the increasing interest and the generally positive evaluations in articles written for executives and managers. economical and technological system. With a great deal at stake. Behaviors of complex systems are often beyond human intuitive comprehension. even highly skilled managers who can intuitively make operational decision are not up to the complex task. when deciding an advertising ploy of a product. . then your brain would have been racked in vain. If you want to describe its outstanding technical parameters. . etc. In a dissimilar or changeable working environment. even ending up futile. which will signiﬁcantly affect the effect of the decision to be implemented. 4. If your message is too technical or does not agree with their common sense. we need to combat employee’s common sense to drag them to consider and implement your decision. Common sense can occasionally “tell” you what to do and how to do in the decisional making process.] Only in this very limited set of circumstances would automated expertise seem reasonable for strategic decision making.
I found opposite views: afﬁrming and negating common sense approach. but some will be valuable. AR. like common sense. Creative organizations are not groups of weirdoes and maniacs. But that is not the whole picture. they are normal people with normal common sense. Arkadelphia. it does seem so. . and this partner is reliable and helpful but can be fallible. Individual variations of common sense will behave the same way as the drawing trees in workplace. but if we let them draw a tree. The CEO and chairman of Disney Michael Eisner says in an interview that “Disney is a company built on a powerful combination of institutionalized creative friction – an environment that produces a constant stream of ideas – and good old-fashioned common sense – which ‘edits’ those ideas for broad commercial appeal. many of which may be simply odd and insigniﬁcant. Is it possible to utilize common sense for creativity? Common sense is “everybody knows”. Larry Hanry. and allow freedom that both common sense and uncommon sense can play. . Therefore individual variations are the source of creativity and innovations. If we think of tacit knowledge behind common sense. On the surface. I have been called upon to “ﬁx” many different types of operations. as chance for creativity always is. Respect your employee’s individuality. foodservice manager at Henderson State University. 2000. naturally exists. The variations will give rise to new ideas and new how-to.] Each location certainly had weak links. the effect will be powerful and make big difference. . catering operations.] conﬂict and common sense yield creatively” (Wetlaufer. voices his opinion about how signiﬁcantly common sense can affect manager’s operational decisions (Hanry. p. don’t let “uncommon” sense be stiﬂed by the invisible strong pressure of common sense. 116). 42). Together [.MD 47. both should play within the frame of the bottom-line requirements of the organization. not very creative. I have been in hotels. but the owners or managers themselves were by far the ones responsible for the majority of the problems [. Although the opening is small. Therefore their job performance will have individualistic creativity if being allowed. “Uncommon” sense.] (p. . . We can call it cautiously effective. So do not fear being conﬁned by common sense. As discussed in the nature of common sense. 2002): In the past 20 years.3 448 5. the invisible part of their knowledge may quite be individualistic. then variations in common sense will be more remarkable because employees have different backgrounds and experiences. restaurants and cafeterias [. concessions. This is like everybody knows trees. Why we have heard opposite voices on common sense approach for managerial decision? We have come to realize that common sense usually is partner of a complicated decision making process. accompanying it is various “uncommon” senses among the group. they would draw more or less different trees although having similar elements. After I searched literature of common sense and decision making. Common sense does not damp down opening for creativity completely. and although they have converged to the common sense in their present area of job. Of course. we know common sense is not exactly “everybody knows” and that “everybody knows the same”. Let’s look at typical afﬁrmative view I found. . . While we are noticing the prominent feature of common sense.
MA. and their opinions are about effectiveness. The negative opinion on common sense does not negate its value. Jones. But he resorts to common sense when he makes comment on a survey that is to predict the future of the safety profession: “I hope your common sense tells you that this list of 46 opinions should be given minimal creditability and should not be used to plan anything important. Complicated and duplicative requirements often confuse those who are supposed to be guided by them. 2002): “There seems to be an overriding notion among safety pros that managing injury preventions requires only good common sense. and many others – face every day (Gaintner. “Profound knowledge in safety should come exclusively from scientiﬁc research. William E. lack or overlook of common sense would make deﬁcient operational decision. not from intuition or common sense” (p. To my way of thinking. “Safety pros may never learn the fallacy of their common sense approach unless they conduct a thorough and objective evaluation of their safety management procedures. nurses. Richard Gaintner. I found that these advocates of common sense approach are mainly practitioners. 20).How much prep time does a particular item take? Are you allowing for that time in your costs? Are you causing more and more labor costs? Does your menu match the equipment in your kitchen? Are you requiring too much deep frying when your kitchen has only one small fryer? (p. expresses clearly his refusal of common sense approach (Geller. Nature and value of common sense Common sense is simple. Their advocacy of common sense is in fact the response to arbitrary and bureaucratic management. DC. and useless complicated or dogmatic procedures. . E. It does not require sophisticated knowledge to make a reasonable decision. not about science. Scott Geller. and sounds less balanced than their intentions really are: they want to see an effective management embodying common sense. It is true that common sense lacks scientiﬁc rigor and accuracy. 2005. a trustee at Jordan Health System in Plymouth.” (p. writes: Every hospital leader knows how government regulation can force physicians and other caregivers to spend more time pushing paper than treating patients. 138). We need to reform the regulatory process so rules are rational and reﬂect the realities that people inside the hospital – executives. p. 168). 2002). professor and director. 18). but excluding it from the judgmental process of decision making is unwise. and interim executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington. but is in fact to stress unreliability of common sense alone. His points make sense. just the usual link that one thing happens what may follow or vice versa. Center for Applied Behavior Systems. doctors.” He can not do without resorting to common sense even in an article.”. MD. Virginia Tech. and senior partner. Editor of Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Now look at negative view. 449 The title of his article “Putting common sense ahead of bureaucracy” represents his opinion properly. To sum up. writes ironically: One deﬁnition of bureaucracy is an administrative system in which the need or inclination to follow complex procedures impedes effective action. Safety Performance Solutions. bureaucracy is the antithesis of common sense (Jones.
In science. expanding personal knowledge and accelerating learning speed. Hands-on experience usually is a must. is not up to such advanced level to be included in teaching programs. are academics. Turning or extending to athletics-style training or psychological training depends on living space of business education. much fewer. As individual learning by experience is slow and limited. reported or reported-and-evaluated attempts at the development of managers’ intuitive awareness either in business school or in-company programs” (p. if any. we can make conscious effort to boost learning process of common sense. Difﬁculty with developing common sense is that nature of common sense makes it close to either craftsmanship/athletics-style training or psychological training. Engineering education. it seems not urgent. both distant from the conventional model and advantages of management education. The conditions of social contact and communication affect the speed of developmental process of common sense. which has been very successful. seems to be a good model for fast developing common sense. Why does he observe more details of characteristics of a model or a scene. 186). but this is very complicated and not easily to change and control. common sense has two origins: experience and social contact. at least for now. 450 . I think that the attempt to develop intuition in classroom is daunting and that the present exclusion of intuition from mainstream management education is not without its rationale. but common sense. People always dig rich mines. which is alien to mainstream management education. it reﬂects difference of the stances on common sense: practitioners concern only “ﬁnish it effectively and/or efﬁciently”. That is similar to the difﬁculty of intuition development. negators. Personally. why some can see and understand more than others? Let’s say a painter. Numerous repetitions of the cycle to see. resorting often to common sense. not conventional class teaching.style education. Is it suggesting common sense’s nature: closely linked to practice and not very scientiﬁc? In my opinion. The question is whether we can develop more efﬁciently. the fast way is by education because education is intensive social sharing process. belittling the scientiﬁc value of common sense. In most cases it appears in booklets or preliminary introductions. what is done is more to understand intuition than to develop it. which makes sense for us facing a fast-changing world. But usually it should be hands-on teaching. but the following aspects would contribute to the learning quality and speed. understand. academics more about “is it a reliable tool?”. Is it possible to develop common sense more efﬁciently? Everybody will develop certain common sense after having lived or worked for a few years. Common sense is natural fruit of experience and time. As we have disused previously.MD 47. as the name itself suggests. There are few. and draw lead him/her to be more sensitive and abler.3 I have noticed that afﬁrmers are mainly practitioners. Sadler-Smith and Shefy (2007) point out “management education and development has largely ignored or shied away from including intuition in its curriculum. and intuition development is not rich mines for business schools. Improve sense-understand ability To do the same job. while others don’t? The answer should be the painter has more power of sensing elements in the sight and understanding their interrelationship.
and this is true to the ability of sensing and understanding of common sense. common sense will develop faster during the same experiencing process. so the contact frequency can be maintained just enough for timely sharing of knowledge. Success and failure analysis. you have no idea how you have got on with what you were doing. who can talk eloquently and logically. Common sense is always in change. With stronger sensing and understanding ability. but only so in speech not in real family life. Do independently Independently trying to do something is very different from being instructed to do with regard to learning and feeling. it is necessary to keep relevant contact. Without the feedback. Hands-on experiencing from time to time will keep up your knowledge and thinking with others. more easily and lazily. how to do. although there are personal differences in learning. either hard or soft. Common sense is commonly used term. is an accelerator for sense-understand training. understanding common sense among employees and other target groups is important for managerial purpose.. Business schools are often criticized for not as good as they claim. but common sense. The ways to improve the sense – understand ability may be very individualistic. Independence forces you to exercise your judgmental ability and to face the consequences of your judgment and action. more used. some meditating and self-reﬂecting. Of course. we can see a general picture of characteristics of common sense. either by self-reﬂection or by mentoring.There is no inborn painter. If we think of common sense is not only knowledge. etc. especially tacit knowledge of business practice is still lacking. Feedback to your action is important for you to reevaluate your previous thinking and action and to adjust yourself in the following process. more developed. do it. keeping social contact means cost of time. others questioning and consulting. not scientiﬁcally strict. referring to common knowledge. For managers. then doing independently is more necessary. Some are used to taking diary to summarize learning experience. Imagine how different it is if you alone walk to a strange address compared with that someone takes you there. What’s wrong with the seemingly perfect education? I think that they can train MBAs to analyze a problem logically and efﬁciently. This is very similar to the case that young persons without family experience discuss how to deal with family relationship harmoniously and happily. or ability of making sound judgment. then your judgment and knowledge learned are likely to be discounted. but includes tacit knowledge and ability of making judgment. more slowly. That is to say. when to do. Conclusion From above examination and discussion. That is. If you are instructed or helped without independent trying. and then see the result of your action to adjust your thinking and next action. you are forced to think about what to do. or often judgmental ability and Nature and value of common sense 451 . Without help or even hope. its value in decision making and possible effective development. Keep necessary contact Common sense is individual and also social. Keeping frequent social contact will share knowledge.
Vol. it is effective but also fallible. try doing independently. Effective way of development of common sense is hands-on styled education. 8. on common sense approach. p. managers can utilize common sense among employees for making and implementing decisions. Industrial Safety & Hygiene News. “How intuition can improve your decision making”. April. Vol. Vol. R.MD 47. 25 No. such as: try one’s own individualistic way to improve ability of sensing and understanding what is being done or observed. 36 No. Harvard Management Communication Letter. 34. 42. In literature of common sense and decision making. Miller. common sense is more suitable to operational decision making and should be used with caution in strategic decision making. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. S. Both views do not contradict author’s view on common sense: cautious effectiveness. (2005). “Intuition in strategic decision making: friend or foe in the fast-paced 21st century?”. it is commonly held but also more or less varied. R. 138. Because of its nature. AHA News. usually a complex systematic decision making.Z. 19 No. 639-47. 19-30. and keep necessary social contact to share knowledge timely. Common sense provides a basic logic map of interrelationship of the things we are dealing with so that we can make quick and effective judgment and decision. “Bureaucracy versus common sense”. 168. 1. (1987).3 452 associated knowledge. N. (2005). “Common sense is nonsense”. p. C. Because common sense training is in nature close to craftsmanship-style training or psychological training. “In search of sense in common sense management”. Academy of Management Executive. Jones. 8. J. a sound and solid decision is usually achieved by common sense combined with analysis based on hard facts. pp. Having analyzed their opinions. W. and even for creativity. and that negative view is overemphasis of common sense’s lack of scientiﬁc accuracy. it is stable but also changing. . or a mix of both. Vol. (2002). and Ireland. 6 No. pp. “Common sense from managers can return dollars and cents to troubled operations”. Although common sense alone sometimes can direct us to an effective decision. 4. 11. it seems that it is not what conventional business education is good at or wants. p. 4. Journal of Business Ethics. Personally conscious efforts are helpful to quicken development of common sense. It is individual but also social. Geller.D. there exist opposite views. 24 June. (2002). August. p. References Gaintner.C. 9 February. 18. 4. Morgan. (2001). pp. Hanry. Nitecki. April. Discussion in the paper is based on the most commonly understood dictionary deﬁnitions of common sense.E. Common sense will come naturally with experience. The nature of common sense suggests its value and possible strategy of utilization in decision making. 38 No. Vol. Common sense takes form from either pure individual experience or pure social communication. Vol. afﬁrmative and negative. In addition to resorting to personal common sense to aid decision making. L. I have found that afﬁrmative view is in fact a response to arbitrary or bureaucratic management and useless dogmatic or complicated managerial procedures. “Putting common sense ahead of bureaucracy”. Nation’s Restaurant News. 4 No. (2002).
pp. (2007). (2007). About the author Sheng Zhao was born in 1964 in China. Simon. Vol. joined Zhengzhou University Department of Management Engineering. managerial issues and complexity systems. 2. pp. 1.cn Nature and value of common sense 453 To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. After completing Master’s program at Beijing Institute of Technology in 1986. 4. E. “Making management decisions: the role of intuition and emotion”. “The twin imperatives of intuition and analysis in decision making”. February. Further reading Sadler-Smith.emeraldinsight. Sheng Zhao can be contacted at: zhao@zzu. Wetlaufer. 52. Now Associate Professor. “Common sense and conﬂict: an interview with Disney’s Michael Eisner”. “Developing intuitive awareness in management education”. Harvard Business Review. teaching operations management. 78 No. E. H. Sheng Zhao’s main research interests are human cognition and performance. 6 No. and Shefy. 186-205. 1 No.Sadler-Smith.edu. Vol. Academy of Management Executive. 13 No. People Management. 114-24.com Or visit our web site for further details: www. p. S. Vol. Vol.A. (2000). and leadership. 57-64. (1987). pp. January-February. Academy of Management Learning & Education.com/reprints . 1. E. 22 February.