chapter
9 Pages

THE PROBLEM OF JOINT DECISION MAKING

The boundaries between families and organizations are becoming more permeable. The influence of family on organization can be seen in familyresponsive corporate policies (Galinsky, Hughes & David, 1990; Stanley, Segal & Laughton, 1990) and in the implementation of mechanisms, such as ethics committees in hospitals by which organizations spread the liability for risky decisions. Increasingly, families enter organizational settings to participate in decision making that concerns health, education, or employment of family members. A recent Hastings Center Report, suggested that “medical decision making would be messier but better” if the concerns of the patient’s family were given more weight and family members had a stronger voice (Nelson, 1992). Over two decades ago, Haug and Sussman (1969) noted that medical professionals needed to realize that clients and their families were often sophisticated consumers capable of seizing power from professionals who did not recognize the potential benefits of empowering clients in treatment processes. Much progress has been made in de-mystifying the client/professional relationship, particularly in the medical profession and educational organizations. Problems remain in facilitating family/organization linkages where there are differences in power, access to information, and level of decision making skill.