There are different conditions in which decisions are made. Managers sometimes have an almost perfect understanding of conditions surrounding a decision, but in other situations they may have little information about those conditions. So, the decision maker must know the conditions under which decisions are to be made. Generally, the decision maker makes decision under the condition of certainty, risk and uncertainty.
Certainty is a condition under which the manager is well informed about possible alternatives and their outcomes. There is only one outcome for each choice. When the outcomes are known and their consequences are certain, the problem of decision is to compute the optimum outcome. Similarly, if there are more than one alternative they are evaluated by conducting cost studies of each alternative and then choosing the one which optimizes the utility of the resources. The condition of certainty exists in case of routine decisions such as allocation of resources for production, payment of wages and salary etc. There is a little ambiguity and relatively low chance of making and impractical decision.
A more decision making condition is a state of risk. In such a condition, managers have knowledge about alternative course of actions but outcomes are associated with probability estimates. It is more difficult to predict future conditions without full information, so the outcome of an alternative cannot be accurately determined. Therefore, managers can guess the probable outcome on the basis of their experience, research and other available information. They can choose an alternative with highest expected outcome. However, such decisions are largely subjective as no decision criteria are fully reliable. Decision making under conditions of risk is accompanied by moderate ambiguity and chances of an impractical decision.
A state of uncertainty occurs when managers are unaware of the problem they face. They do not know all the alternatives, the risk associated with them or the likely consequences of each alternative. This uncertainty arises from the complexity and dynamism of contemporary organization and their environments. Managers have limited information to calculate the degree of risk, so statistical analysis is not possible. The condition of uncertainty arises when the organization introduces a new or innovative product or service, adopts new technology, selects new advertising program etc. To make effective decision in uncertain conditions, managers must acquire as much relevant information as possible and approach the situation from a logical and rational perspective. Intuition, judgment and experience always play major roles in the decision making process. However, decision under uncertainty is the most ambiguous for managers and there is more possibility of error.