CEO’s make 50% of their decisions in less than nine minutes while only 12% of their decisions take over one hour to make according to author and "thought leader" Sheena Iyengar. She also points out that CEOs tend to know only 10% of the story behind the decisions they are making. Given their positions and responsibilities, many of the decisions are likely to have a significant impact on their companies, their subordinates, and their communities. Although Iyengar correctly uses these statistics to call attention to the hazards of procrastination, it is important to recognize engineers, architects, and scientists can take months, or even years, to make decisions, which is why most people would rather drive across a bridge designed by an engineer than one designed by a CEO.
Clearly, the manner in which CEO's make decisions means they are either relying on the expertise of others to compensate for their ignorance or relying on their trained intuition, which exposes them to the hazards of bias and error. Thanks to his entrepreneurial background and reliance on intuition, US President Donald Trump has emphasized the impact of this decision making style in government, where the consequences of bad decisions are far-reaching. With the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from TPP, refusal to reassure NATO allies of US commitments, and the rejection of the Climate Protection Treaty, many are left questioning whether Mr. Trump is offhandedly choosing to lead the US away from global leadership.
Despite a history of being politically outspoken and dealing with regulations relevant to the real estate industry, the simple truth is that Mr. Trump has little experience in addressing public policy issues. He is, therefore, extremely reliant on the expertise of his advisers and their preconceived public policy prescriptions. In reality, Mr. Trump and those who share his decision-making style are not actually making decisions. They are selecting from the options given to them by their advisers. Not only does this decision-making style limit the President’s options, even if he had a diverse group of advisers, it encourages the kind of thoughtlessness that prevents the development of alternatives while empowering those special interest who have access to him.
Clearly, Mr. Trump has taken a very vocal “anti-globalist” stance and embraced the pubic policy positions of the Right-wing hardliners who advise him. US foreign policy under his leadership reflects their priorities. Modern Republicans, who largely comprise the Right, face an interesting ideological conflict. On the one hand, traditional Republicans tend to embrace a very domineering US foreign policy and aggressive pursuit of US interests. On the other hand, the libertarian movement within the GOP seeks a withdrawal from international overreach and US global commitments. In selecting the options presented by Right-wing advisers, the Trump Administration embodies the ideological conflict of Republicans. Trump seeks to retain the benefits of US global leadership and, simultaneously, eliminate the costs of US international commitments, which entice other nations to support US interests and leadership.
For the International Community, US global leadership since the end of the second Wold War has meant the use of US wealth and military might to support international endeavors, e.g. the UN, NATO, USAID, World Bank, etc. The Trump Administration’s withdrawal from TPP, refusal to reassure NATO allies of US commitments, and the rejection of the Climate Protection Treaty, therefore, appear to be nothing more than the US neglecting its responsibilities as a global leader. To maintain its global leadership position, however, the US must simply sustain its economic prowess and military might as well as the vast network of alliances US power is predicated on. The Trump Administration is seeking to guard against a decline in US economic and military power by putting “American First.”
That said, the Trump Administration is undermining US diplomatic influence and other forms of “soft power” by rejecting international initiatives. For those who support Trump’s decisions and/or embrace an “anti-globalist” stance, however, they see these international initiatives as illiberal policies that empower international governing institutions by disempowering nations and individuals. For its part, the Trump Administration has limited itself to either accepting or rejecting international initiatives, because it lacks the decision making capacity to offer alternative initiatives. Just as Republicans domestically struggle to offer an acceptable alternative to the Affordable Care Act, because they fail to address the interests of those outside their preferred special interest groups, their limited selection of options prevent them from attracting support for alternative international initiatives that can guarantee US global leadership.
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