Within the last two years the authors have taught a series of courses under the title of Educational Decision Making. The course comprises a one-day introduction to a model of discretionary decision making, developed, trialled and used in a major training programme for the State Services Commission (Marshall & Peters 1985, 1986). This paper briefly reviews the background to the development of the model and, on the basis of cases presented in the courses, discusses issues related to the new era facing 'managers' in the polytechnic system. The paper argues for the notion of collaborative style in management and outlines how it fulfils the principles of openness and responsiveness in institutional governance. Collaborative management is also contrasted with a form of management, adopted and encouraged by the recent reforms to administration in the tertiary sector, which is hierarchical and based on a concept of line management where power and control is concentrated in the hands of the 'chief executive' and invested in explicit lines of delegation to specific individuals.