Few studies have been made of how fanners make decisions. Most research and teaching has focused on the decision event, not the whole process. Current knowledge of the decision making process is reviewed and described as a set of eight functions or elements: values and goals, problem detection, problem definition, observation, analysis, development of intention, implementation, and responsibility bearing. The relevancy of this view of fanners' decision making behavior is tested through a series of case studies. Based on these observations, the conceptual model of the decision process is revised to include four phases and four subprocesses. The four phases are problem detection, problem definition, analysis and choice, and implementation. The four subprocesses are searching and paying attention, planning, evaluating and choosing, and checking the choice. In addition, we note that fanners prefer the ability to continually update their evaluation and plans, a qualitative vs. quantitative analysis, a "quick and simple" vs. detailed and elaborate analysis, small tests and incremental implementation, and feed forward and compensation vs. post-implementation evaluation. Implications of this fuller view of the decision making process for management assistance are discussed. © 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.