This article elaborates on the question how complex decision-making can be analysed. Three conceptual models are compared: the phase model, the stream model and the rounds model. Each model is based on specific assumptions about what decision-making is and how it should be analysed. The phase model focuses on successive and distinctive stages in a process, i.e. defining a problem, searching for, choosing and implementing solutions. The stream model emphasises concurrent streams of participants, problems and solutions, defining decision-making as the connection between these streams. The rounds model combines elements of the other two models, in assuming that several actors introduce combinations of problems and solutions, and create progress through interaction. Each model generates specific insights, as is shown from the example of the ‘Betuwe line’, a railway line intended for the transport of cargo, in the Netherlands. The phase model concentrates on decisions taken by a focal actor; the stream model focuses on the coincidental links between problems, solutions and actors; and the rounds model on the interaction between actors.
Public Administration
Department of Public Administration

Teisman, G.R. (2000). Models for research into decision-making processes: On phases, streams and decision-making rounds. Public Administration. Retrieved from