MG456      Half Unit
Strategic Decision Making

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Valentina Ferretti NAB 3.04


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Management Science (Decision Sciences). This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, Global MSc in Management, Global MSc in Management (CEMS MiM), Global MSc in Management (MBA Exchange), MBA Exchange, MSc in Management (1 Year Programme) and MSc in Marketing. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is complementary to any behavioural course offered at LSE.


Elementary statistical and mathematical concepts, as well as a curiosity towards the fascinating field of decision making and a strong interest in rebooting your “decision-ware”.

As this course embraces the two key stages of the decision making process, i.e. the initial divergent and creative stage and the subsequent convergent and analytical one, please note that it is important to feel comfortable with interdisciplinary research, as well as with the use and discussion of both qualitative and quantitative strategies for successful decisions.

Course content

This course is about making successful strategic decisions (i.e. challenging decisions that can have important consequences in the short or long term), in both the professional domain and the personal one. Decision making is indeed a central aspect of virtually every management and business activity, including strategic planning, project management, resource allocation, policy making, marketing, operations management, and investment. Knowledge of what it takes to develop a good decision making process is thus an invaluable part of everyone’s toolbox, particularly for rising stars that will be in positions of leadership in the future. It is this ability that will be developed in this course, which introduces students to the key concept of decision quality and to cutting edge strategies and tools to integrate data and judgments and develop winning strategies.

This course’s lectures will propose you a deep dive into the progressive stages of a strategic decision making process, with interactive experiments and puzzles to develop bias awareness and decision analysis expertise. Seminars will consist in interactive hands on sessions to master actionable decision frameworks and become confident decision analysts. The learning outcomes of this course are twofold. First, you will discover what are the key decision traps we tend to fall into when framing, structuring and modelling decisions and why they are dangerous. Second, you will understand and master cutting edge, replicable and versatile solutions for framing, structuring, modelling and communicating better decisions.


20 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT.

A reading week will take place in Week 6. There will be no teaching during this week.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 essay in the LT.

There are two pieces of formative assignments:

1. Group project plan presentation (i.e. the selected decision context, due in week 7)

2. Group project pitch of the key decision analysis’ impacts observed as a result of the strategic decision making process developed as a group across classes 2, 3, 4, and 6. Students will present and discuss the key impacts of their decision making process (e.g. discovery of new objectives that were not in their original mental models, recommendation of a different solution to the decision as a result of the used elicitation protocols, etc.) and receive real time feedback, from both their peers and the lecturer. Feedback will be provided following specific criteria (i.e. the same criteria that will be used to evaluate the individual technical account of the group project’s impacts that is summative assignment n.2) and by completing a set of both descriptive and evaluative tasks (e.g. indicating the strongest part of the presentation, as well as parts that need revision, etc.).  The above two formative assignments have been designed to prepare the students for the following two summative works: (i) the group project presentation of the chosen decision making problem/opportunity and (ii) the individual technical account of the group project’s observed impacts.

The topic of the group project (i.e. a decision making problem or opportunity to be modelled and analysed by means of Multicriteria Analysis) can be a personal decision (e.g. which job offer to accept when confronted with multiple ones, which master to apply for, etc.) or a real world case (e.g. how to reduce plastic consumption in the LSE new coffee place). Students will have to collect data, develop and apply a quantitative model, interpret the results and refer to the key scientific literature for the main steps in the development of the model. Students are allowed to work in groups of maximum 4/5 people. This summative assignment will help students develop their strategic problem solving skills by demonstrating their ability to apply both qualitative and quantitative tools to frame, structure and model a decision,  interpret its results, and develop sound recommendations.

In the individual technical account of the group project’s impacts (max 1500 words), students will have to report on the developed process by focusing on the observed key impacts of the used tools.  This second summative assignment will help students develop their critical thinking skills

Indicative reading

Belton, V. and Stewart, T. (2002) Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis. London, Kluwer.

Keeney, R.L. (1992) Value-Focused Thinking: A Path to Creative Decision-making. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press. HD30.23 K21 (Course Collection).

G.S. Parnell et al. (2013) Handbook of Decision Analysis. Hoboke, Wiley.

Spetzler C., Winter H., Meyer J. 2016. Decision quality: value creation from better business decisions. Wiley.


Presentation (25%) in the LT.
Coursework (75%) in the ST.

Group presentation (25%) in the LT.

Technical report (75%) in the ST.

The presentation is a group project due in Week 11 of Lent Term.

The other assessment is an individual technical report (1500 word maximum) on the impacts of the developed group decision making process due in Week 1 of Summer Term.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2018/19: 69

Average class size 2018/19: 23

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

Teachers' comment

In May 2017 Dr Valentina Ferretti was awarded an LSE Student-led Teaching Excellence Award in the category of Inspirational Teaching for this course