Alignment: The duality of decision problems

Christopher M. Scherpereel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose - Identifying the state of alignment, when there is misalignment, and the path to achieve alignment are of central importance to decision makers today. This paper seeks to offer decision makers some actionable guidance in narrowing the search for possible solution methodologies and to develop a generalized decision alignment framework that can be applied to real decision problems. Design/methodology/approach - Alignment is viewed as a goal of decision makers and the correct matching of decision and action is essential to achieving consistently high performance. Drawing on parallels with the duality problem in linear programming, decision alignment is defined. The decision alignment framework is theoretically developed using examples from a diverse application set, including quantitative research, decision making, education, and e-commerce. Findings - The evidence shows that good research conforms to the decision alignment framework and poor research violates it. Similarly, good decisions conform to the decision alignment framework and poor decisions violate it. The decision alignment framework guides decision makers in constraining and redefining problems to optimize outcome performance, and shows the importance of addressing the dual problem of learning and understanding the phenomena. Research limitations/implications - The theoretical foundation developed can be used to promote future research in decision alignment. By providing a theoretically derived framework, rich opportunities for empirical testing are offered. Researchers are also given guidance on how alignment research can be conducted. Practical implications - The examples presented highlight the prescriptive, communicative, and descriptive value of the decision alignment framework. Practitioners are provided with examples for using the decision alignment framework to build toolboxes of approaches that can be aligned to a characterization of real-world decision problems to improve performance. Originality/value - The introduction of a decision alignment framework is a significant contribution to the management decision literature. By introducing a decision alignment framework, the rather ambiguous term alignment is precisely defined as the matching of decision problem characterization (primal problem) with the approach possibility set (dual problem).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1258-1276
Number of pages19
JournalManagement Decision
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2006


  • Decision making
  • Modelling
  • Strategic alignment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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