Abstract for: From the Archives: The dynamics of action-oriented problem solving: linking interpretation and choice

This poster reprises our paper published in 2009 in the Academy of Management Review. Motivated by a medical diagnosis problem that generates a wide range of problem solving behaviors, we posit a theory of action-oriented problem solving that links interpretation and choice, processes usually treated separately in the sensemaking and decision making literatures. We used an iterative, simulation-based process to develop a system dynamics model grounded in a unique data set of 39 anesthesia residents confronting a simulated patient with a breathing problem. Three insights emerged: (1) action-oriented problem solving includes acting, interpreting, and cultivating diagnoses; (2) feedback and interactions among these processes open and close windows of adaptive problem solving; and (3) reinforcing feedback and confirmation bias, usually considered dysfunctional, are helpful for adaptive problem solving. (Original paper: Academy of Management Review 34(4): 733-756 2009.)