Friday, November 7, 2014

Expertise-Based Intuition and Decision Making in Organizations

By: Eduardo Salas, Michael A. Rosen and Deborah DiazGranados

The authors of this review examined literature on intuition, expertise, and how expertise-based intuition plays a role for decision makers in organizations. According to the authors “Expertise is at the root of effective intuitive decision making in complex organizational settings, and therefore understanding how to develop and manage effective intuition in organizations is, in part, linked to an understanding of human expertise.”  Expertise-based intuition is different because it draws on domain-specific knowledge to answer questions. Expertise and intuition are not synonymous.

However, a person cannot rely on intuition alone. Overlaying on intuition can also be a source of error. Instead, an organization should set performance and developmental mechanisms for expertise-based intuition.  The literature points to several conditions where intuition is more likely to be accurate: characteristics of the decision makers, the decision task, and the decision environment. A person’s intuition is rooted unconsciously, which provides them with a quick judgment on complex patterns of relationships. Although, if the decision maker is taken out of his/her expertise, then the likelihood of his/her intuition decreases.

Since intuition is based from expertise, experts possess both the experience and knowledge to take advantage of the intuition process. Using expertise and naturalistic decision making (NDM) helps decision makers explain the role of intuition in the decision making process. NDM is a type of decision making research that aims to understand “the way people use their experience to make decisions in field settings.” Tables 2 and 3 provide a summary of the mechanisms of performance and the mechanisms of development.

While the authors adequately explained why intuition plays a large role in organizations and how to improve intuitive expertise-based decision making, they only laid out the existing knowledge based on management science. Looking at intuition from a different field, such as organizational leadership or intelligence, could cause different results. In addition, the authors did not touch on the level of expertise needed to be considered an expert, what situations would call for intuitive decision-making, and how people react to the intuitive expertise-based decisions.


Salas, E., Rosen, M. A., & DiazGranados, D. (2010). Expertise-Based Intuition and Decision Making in Organizations. Journal of Management36(4), 941–973. doi:10.1177/0149206309350084


  1. Joy,

    How often do you find yourself using intuition while creating an intelligence product and do you believe there is a place for it when creating an estimate?

  2. Are the mechanisms to develop listed in the final two tables ranked in any way, or are they simply a list?

  3. Harrison,

    I have used intuition a small amount when creating an intelligence product. However, I can see intuition playing a larger role in the intelligence community. I could see myself using it more as our work progresses.


    The mechanisms listed above were not ranked, merely just collected during the authors literature review.

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