The foregoing description reveals the following characteristics of decision making:
(i) Decision making is a process of selection or choice among alters native courses of action. The need for decision making arises only when more than one alternative exists for doing the work.
(ii) The aim of decision making is to find out the best possible course of action. It is a rational and purposeful activity designed to attain well-defined objectives.
Decisions relate means to ends. In order to identify the best alternative, it is necessary to evaluate all available alternatives. As decision making is always purposeful, there may just be a decision not to decide.
(iii) Decision making is an intellectual or rational process. As a mental exercise, it involves considerable deliberation and thoughtful consideration of various factors influencing the choice. It is the end process preceded by reasoning and judgment.
(iv) Decision making involves a certain commitment. A decision results into the commitment of resources and reputation of the organisation.
This commitment may be for short term or long term depending upon the type of decision. Decision making involves a time dimension and a time lags.
(v) Decision making is always related to the situation or the environment. A manager may take one decision in a particular situation and an opposite decision in a different situation. In some situations, there may just be a decision not to decide.
(vi) Decision making is a pervasive function of management. This function is performed by managers at all levels though the nature of decisions may differ from one level to another. Decision making is a continuous process.
(vii) Decision making is a human and social process. It involves the use not simply of the intellectual abilities but also of intuition, subjective values and judgment.
It is not a purely intellectual process. Perception and human judgment are indispensable and no technique can replace them. But knowledge and experience also provide basis for correct decisions.
(viii) The choice in decision making implies freedom to choose from among alternative courses of action without coercion. It also implies uncertainty about the final outcome.
When there is no choice of action, no decision is necessary. The need for making any decision occurs only when some uncertainty as to outcome exists.