The Teen-age and Adult Driver Responsibility Act: Garbage Can Decision-making in the Georgia Legislature


The purpose of this study was to examine the legislative process used by the 1997 Georgia legislature during the enactment of the Teen-age and Adult Driver Responsibility Act, House Bill 681.  The garbage can model of decision making (Cohen & March 1986; Cohen, March, & Olsen, 1972; March & Olsen, 1976) was used to examine the process and organize the study.  Two procedures were utilized for data collection:  interviews with key participants and examination of relevant documents.  Participants were asked a series of prepared questions that were based on components of the garbage can model.  Those questions focued on the problems, solutions, participants, and choice opportunities of the decision-making process.  The data gathered was reduced, organized according to the four streams of the garbage can decision-making model, and displayed in tables.  Twelve hypotheses based on the garbage can model and institutionalism were presented.  The conclusion presented the findings in terms of the garbage can model and revealed the factors that influenced the making of the decision.  The findings support the theory of Cohen, March and Olsen (1972) that participants in an organized anarchy such as a legislature often make decisions in ambiguity, and the garbage can model can help explain the decision-making process used. Recommendations and implications for leaders in complex organizations are presented.

Date Published: 
Friday, August 4, 2000

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