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Limited Rationality

The term ‘Limited Rationality’ is associated with the Nobel Laureate H. Simon. His research on decision-making behaviour of managers in their daily work has proved that the theoretical assumptions about an aspect of economics, upon which the decision makers act, on the assumed basis of ‘complete’ knowledge, is nonsensical. Instead, decisions are made where there are sufficient reasons to argue for one of the existing alternatives available.

Therefore, decisions are vindicated by empirical research as that which they have always been in difference theory: no calculation procedure based upon facts, but a choice which is dependent upon many determinants: information, acts of volition, the unconscious, the unknown, social expectations, atmospheres, the unsaid, diversity, inhomogeneous goals, contradictions, complex interdependencies, time constraints and opportunities.

Rationality is also important, but it is only an aspect of decision-making and, above all, no guarantee for the efficacy of the decisions in the future. It is the future which decides about the value of decisions. In this way decisions are not arbitrary, but their reasoning is more misaligned upon the present. Rationality can be seen as an aid which, in the present moment, enables the realisation of a decision: because arguments, data and facts can lead to unity, facilitate the letting go of alternatives, assist the powers of persuasion where there are dissenters, enable hope for those who, so far, have been fearful, and much more. In short, rationality preserves its value through remaining limited (and thus making objections possible). If it were not limited, it would be totalitarian.