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Guiding Decentralized Decision Making

Decision Rights/Governance

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, organizations have increasingly relied on decentralized decision making by cross-functional teams to rapidly sense and respond to changes in their environment. MIT CISR research found that to empower these teams, organizations rely on four decision rights guardrails that align teams with enterprise-wide interests. The guardrails revolve around a company’s purpose, data, policies, and resource allocation processes. In this research project, we continue our 2021 investigation into how the decision guardrails enable and constrain decentralized decision making. We seek to answer the following research questions:

  • What are successful practices and key mechanisms for each of the decision rights guardrails?
  • What are the integration and standardization requirements for each guardrail? How should the decision rights for these practices and mechanisms be distributed among key organizational stakeholders (e.g., teams, units/lines of business, centers of excellence, leadership)?
  • How do the four guardrails compare in terms of their contributions to key organizational performance indicators (e.g., organizational agility, time to market, cost of operations)?

Methods: Survey instrument

Seeking: Digital leaders, enterprise architects, IT governance officers, data experts, and/or product/solutions owners to participate in our survey

Contact: Nick van der Meulen


Nick van der Meulen, Research Scientist

Nick’s work centers on how companies need to organize themselves differently in the face of continuous technological change. Nick is passionate about separating hype from reality using quantitative data, while also studying the complexity of business practice through in-depth case studies.

Cynthia (Dr. Boo) M. Beath, Professor Emerita & Researcher

Cynthia is a Professor Emerita at the McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include the study of how organizations redesign themselves for the digital era and how they get value from data assets.

Related Publications

MIT CISR research is funded by the more than seventy-five firms that sponsor our work and participate in our consortium. 

MIT CISR Patrons
Axway, Inc.
Pegasystems Inc.
Standard Bank Group (South Africa)
The Ogilvy Group
MIT CISR Sponsors
Allstate Insurance Company
ANZ Banking Group (Australia)
Banco Bradesco S.A. (Brazil)
Banco do Brasil S.A.
Bank of Queensland (Australia)
BlueScope Steel (Australia)
BNP Paribas (France)
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Cabot Corporation
Caterpillar, Inc.
CEMEX (Mexico)
Charles River Laboratories, Inc.
CIBC (Canada)
Cochlear Limited (Australia)
Commonwealth Superannuation Corp. (Australia)
Cuscal Limited (Australia)
CVS Health
DBS Bank Ltd. (Singapore)
Doosan Corporation (Korea)
Fidelity Investments
Fomento Economico Mexicano, S.A.B., de C.V.
Fortum (Finland)
General Mills, Inc.
General Motors Corporation
Gilbane Building Co.
Henkel AG & Co. (Germany)
Hitachi, Ltd. (Japan)
Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
Kaiser Permanente
King & Wood Mallesons (Australia)
Koç Holding (Turkey)
National Australia Bank Ltd.
Nomura Holdings, Inc. (Japan)
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. Systems Consulting Division (Japan)
Pacific Life Insurance Company
Pioneer Natural Resources USA Inc.
Posten Norge AS (Norway)
Principal Financial Group
Procter & Gamble
Ramsay Health Care (Australia)
Raytheon Technologies
Reserve Bank of Australia
SC Global Tubular Solutions
Scentre Group Limited (Australia)
Schneider Electric Industries SAS (France)
State Street Corp.
Stockland (Australia)
Suncorp Group (Australia)
Teck Resources Limited (Canada)
Tetra Pak (Sweden)
Trinity Health
Truist Financial Corporation
UniSuper Management Pty Ltd (Australia)
Webster Bank, N.A.
Westpac Banking Corporation (Australia)
WestRock Company
Wolters Kluwer
Zoetis Services LLC
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