Building behavioural (ethical) decision-making guidelines at a biopharmaceutical company. A case study

DProf thesis

Du Preez, T. 2020. Building behavioural (ethical) decision-making guidelines at a biopharmaceutical company. A case study. DProf thesis Middlesex University Health, Social Care and Education
TypeDProf thesis
TitleBuilding behavioural (ethical) decision-making guidelines at a biopharmaceutical company. A case study
AuthorsDu Preez, T.

“To contribute to management practice, behavioural [decision] strategy needs to show managers how to make better decisions in organizational settings.”
(Sibony, Lovallo and Powell, 2017, pg.16)
This thesis explores improving organisational decision quality by addressing one of the current limitations of behavioural decision-making theory by designing and implementing a behavioural decision-making process in practice. The latter being ethical decision-making guidelines developed with and for a biopharmaceutical company in my role as an external consultant using case study methodology and reflective practice.
This thesis shows that the theory that informs decision making in practice should not be limited to the fields of cognitive and social psychology but rather requires a more flexible and pragmatic approach aligned with the outcomes required of a specific decision system such as including literature covering economics, sustainability, business codes or ethics. The extensive decision-making literature available was narrowed down by exploring Nobel award winning decision-making theories as well as the metrics that decision makers considered important in their own decision making in practice.
This enquiry explored the practice of creating an organisation wide decision-making strategy that considers individual context such as values and ways of deciding as well as how to implement and support it over time. Finding that the personal nature of decision making and ethical judgement necessitated nonprescriptive decision-making guidelines that allowed for the identification of true decision dilemmas followed by customised best practice guidance on how to resolve them. It also found that there was no single definition of what was the right thing to do when faced with an ethical dilemma and hence the importance of a code of conduct that was behavioural in nature. The most impactful finding was the power of simplicity on designing decision strategies and how very welcome such a strategy was as a tool to create shared organisational language around ethics and decision making and how this promoted improved dialogue at all levels in the organisation.
Implications for further research include comparing several behavioural decision processes to find consistent protocols that can be re-used in generic decision-making strategies, measuring the effectiveness of these strategies and continuing to refine the practice of decision making in unprecedented problem domains.

Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
Research GroupWork and Learning Research Centre
Department nameHealth, Social Care and Education
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print10 Jan 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Jan 2023
Accepted28 Oct 2020
Output statusPublished
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