Garbage Can Theory

The garbage-can theory (Cohen, March, and Olsen 1972) adds that an organization "is a collection of choices looking for problems, issues and feelings looking for decision situations in which they might be aired, solutions looking for issues to which they might be the answer, and decision makers looking for work". Problems, solutions, participants, and choice opportunities flow in and out of a garbage can, and which problems get attached to solutions is largely due to chance.

In the garbage-can theory (Cohen, March, and Olsen 1972) an organization "is a collection of choices looking for problems, issues and feelings looking for decision situations in which they might be aired, solutions looking for issues to which they might be the answer, and decision makers looking for work". Problems, solutions, participants, and choice opportunities flow in and out of a garbage can, and which problems get attached to solutions is largely due to chance.

They are a bit more pessimistic on the value of charismatic leaders in these situations. They note that leaders can make a difference in the "garbage can" by:
* carefully timing issue creation
* being sensitive to shifting interests and involvement of participants
* recognizing the status and power implications of choice situations
* abandoning initiatives that get hopeless entangled with others
* realize the planning is largely symbolic and an excuse for interaction