The research investigated the relationship between managerial decision-making and a set of specified contingent situational factors: decision type, perceived skill requirements and objective skill inputs. The study was based on 663 German and British managers in two interlocking senior management levels of 37 large enterprises. The data were collected by means of Group Feedback Analysis as part of a large study of managerial decision-making in eight countries.

The results show a significant (p — < .05) relationship between the choice of decision styles and the postulated contingency variables. Only 1 % of 615 senior managers consistently use a single decision style, more than two-thirds use four or five different styles. Very large variations occur as a function of different decision tasks, perceived skill requirements and objective skill availability.

There are differences between the relatively well matched samples of German and British managers, but they are less significant than the broadly similar way in which both samples respond to the particular contingencies under investigation.

The results are interpreted in the context of an open systems contingency framework. Their action implications are seen to suggest a link with sociotechnical theory on job design and wider issues of organisational and social policy.