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Backroom Decisions

Backroom decisions – these are meetings by people who influence decisions outside the official committees, have a bad reputation and, nevertheless, can be found everywhere. Therefore, an organisational dynamic explanation is needed for this phenomenon.

No decision-making process can be rationalised and defined so that it counts in all cases, so that it would not allow any scope for discretion, so that it lives up to the special case entirely and as needed, so that it takes all interests into account, just as is required. Therefore it needs ‘scope’. This becomes, something which is thrashed out in the backrooms, also for the protection of official processes.

Backrooms are very suited for:

fathoming out where the pain boundaries lie for establishing compromises which don’t immediately threaten a loss of face for the stakeholders,

fathoming out how those occupying powerful positions think and what they tend towards,

giving opportunities to excel as supporters of the powerful, forging coalitions which, if they were known about, would undermine the acceptance of the decision

guarding against things, so that official processes must reckon less with the unforeseen,

agreeing on future ‘countertrade’, so that a decision becomes possible in the first place,

agreeing trade-offs which would not be officially implementable, exercising influence which comes from the environment of the organisation, to create an area of action.

All these functions, which are cultivated in backrooms, can be rated completely differently in the organisation (and externally). They can trigger relief (“You have found a solution!”) as well as outrage (“This is all a complete stitch up; the agreement is a farce!”). From an organisation dynamic view it is suspected that large organisations would be unable to make decisions involving complex interests without the backroom.