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satisficing behaviour

  Originating with Herbert Simon (1956), satisficing was developed as an alternative to rational choice theory and its presumption of optimization. In contrast to the optimizer, a satisficer chooses among alternatives on the basis of whether they meet or exceed a certain minimum threshold, and not whether they are the best. Conceptually linked to satisficing is bounded rationality, the notion that decision-makers choose among a narrowly defined set of options, rather than as in rational choice theory among every possible option. Two kinds of circumstances are especially germane to the applicability of both ideas: (1) either when it is logically impossible to calculate an optimal solution, or when the costs, time and expertise necessary to make such a calculation are too great; and (2) when the very choices among which the individual chooses are either in conflict with one another (see prisoner\'s dilemma) or incommensurable.

In geography, the best-known use of the satisficing concept and bounded rationality is found in Allan Pred\'s (1969) behavioural matrix (see figure), and defined by the twin axes of ability to use information and its availability. Any particular industrialist seeking an optimal location for their factory can be positioned on the matrix. Traditional homo economicus is in the bottom right-hand corner, and industrialists who are both stupid and ignorant at the top left-hand corner. Satisficers and bounded rationalists are somewhere in the middle, their precise position affecting their eventual proximity to the optimal site. Pred\'s work was subsequently incorporated into various behavioural geographies of the firm, but was also criticized for not recognizing that the two axes of the matrix are interdependent. (TJB)

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satisficing behaviour

References Pred, A. 1967 and 1969: Behavior and location: foundations for a geographic and dynamic location theory, 2 vols. Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup. Simon, H.A. 1956: Rational choice and the structure of the environment. Psychological Review 63: 129-38.

Suggested Reading Pred (1967) (1969).



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