Programmed and Unprogrammed Decisions

Cite this article as:"Programmed and Unprogrammed Decisions," in The Business Professor, updated April 6, 2020, last accessed October 29, 2020,


What is a Programmed Decision and an Unprogrammed Decision?

The response to a problem is generally based upon the nature of the problem. The method of response can generally be characterized as follows:

  • Programmed Decisions – Programmed decisions are repetitive and routine in nature. That is, this type of decision or response to a situation is common within the organization and largely “automated”. Programmed decisions are generally documented as Procedures, Policies, or Rules. As such, this type of decision does not require a high degree of analysis and evaluation. They certainly do not require managers to go through each step of the decision-making process.
  • Unprogrammed Decisions – These are novel, ambitious, and often incomplete in nature. Because they are unique and non-recurring, managers must generally undertake the various steps in the decision making process to address these decisions. Particularly, managers must analyze the problem, identify alternatives, and choose among the best alternative.

Was this article helpful?