The garbage can model is an organizational behaviour model developed by Michael Cohen, that describes the behaviour of institutions as organised anarchies.
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The model was developed to explain the way decision-making takes place in organisations that experience high levels of uncertainty, what is described as organised anarchy. This is caused by three things: problematic preferences, unclear and poorly understood technology and a high turnover of organizational positions.
Stream of Events
The garbage can model doesn't see the decision-making process as a sequence of steps that begins with a problem and ends with a solution. Instead, decisions are the outcome of independent streams of events within an organisation. These are problem points, potential solutions, participants and choice opportunities. The organisation is a 'garbage can' where these streams are stirred.
It suggests four consequences that arise from the decision-making process: solutions may be proposed even when problems do not exist; choices are made without solving problems; problems may persist without being solved; some problems are solved.
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