Purpose: Research has reliably demonstrated that decision-makers, especially expert ones, use heuristics to make decisions under uncertainty. However, whether decision-makers with little or no experience also do, and if so, how? is unknown. This research addresses this issue in the marketing context by studying how a group of young and generally inexperienced entrepreneurs decide when asked to set a price and choose a distribution channel in a scenario involving a hypothetical firm.
Design/methodology/approach: The authors used think-aloud protocols to elicit data and then used inductive procedures to code the data for analysis.
Findings: The inexperienced entrepreneurs in the sample used three types of heuristics in their decision-making, forming a structured process that narrows in scope. First, metacognitive heuristics, which specify a decision-making approach, were used, followed by heuristics representing the criteria they considered, and finally, heuristics detailing the execution of a selected option. The authors also found that heuristics relating to a market orientation, especially customer-centric criteria, were the most common, but these were balanced with ones representing an internal orientation or growth.
Research limitations/implications: The generally inexperienced decision-makers the authors’ studied used heuristics in a structured way that helped them to select and balance several potentially conflicting decision-making criteria. As with most research using qualitative research designs, the generalizability of these findings is unclear. Further research on the mechanisms by which relatively inexperienced decision-makers learn the heuristics they use is recommended.
Originality/value: This research's novelty lies in its focus on heuristic use by nonexpert decision-makers under conditions of uncertainty and the findings about their scope and the order they are used. As the authors collected data from think-aloud protocols with relatively young entrepreneurs with limited experience, they also offer a description of the heuristics used by nascent entrepreneurs when making marketing decisions about pricing and channels. The most surprising conclusion is that even without relevant domain-specific knowledge, decision-makers can use heuristics in an ecologically rational way (i.e. structured to match the environment).
- Inexperienced decision-makers
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business, Management and Accounting(all)
- Management Science and Operations Research