The mindfulness perspectives on decision-making and performance management

Cranfield School of Management

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The mindfulness perspectives on decision-making and performance management

Potential Supervisors:

Dr. Jutta Tobias
Dr. Andrey Pavlov

Brief description of the field of research

Management scholars suggest that business performance is strongly influenced by the continuous stream of individual and organizational meaning-making. For individuals, this meaning-making is based on the “inner work life” of the mental interplay of perceptions, emotions, and motivations (Amabile & Kramer, 2007). For organizations, it consists in structures, routines, and processes which constrain and channel organizational efforts in a particular way (Ocasio, 1997; Rerup, 2009). The effectiveness of individual and organizational action and, ultimately, the level of performance will thus depend on how effective these processes and elements are.

There are of course many different angles from which this issue could be viewed. However, some of the most powerful insights in this area have been provided by the recent research in mindfulness. Mindfulness can be conceptualised as a type of cognitive style (Dane, 2011) that refers to a state of active awareness, characterized by the creation and refinement of the categories for the experiences at hand, the openness to new information and the willingness to view situations from multiple perspectives, and finally by a suspension of judgment for as long as possible. These characteristics have been shown to underpin the effectiveness of the meaning-making processes mentioned above, thus making the mindfulness perspective an incredibly useful lens for conducting research in this area.

The links between mindfulness on one hand and reliability, resilience, and performance on the other have been widely documented. For instance, it has been shown empirically that individuals who have learned to practice mindfulness show higher levels of performance, even after only 4 days of brief training sessions (Zeidan, Johnson, Diamond, et al., 2010). Likewise, although mindfulness is ultimately an individual-level process, high-reliability and high-performance organizations have been shown to exhibit the features of collective mindfulness (Weick & Sutcliffe, 2001).

Although this evidence is valuable, many questions about the mechanism, context, and effects of mindfulness remain. We therefore invite research proposals focusing on the links between mindfulness, decision-making and performance management – on the levels of both individual and organizational performance. Some sample research topics are listed below, yet additional research topics in this area are also welcome.

Potential research topics (not limited to those listed)

• Mindful decisions in organisations: definition, scope, and boundary effects
• Measuring employees’ “inner work life” using a performance management system
• Cognitive heuristics and biases in performance measurement: can mindfulness help?
• The effect of mindfulness training on managing performance in organisations
• Mindfulness perspective on inertia and change driven by performance management
• Making organizational routines open to change and development
• Organizations’ ability to detect and amplify critical signals in the environment
• Organizational costs of mindfulness

References

Amabile, T. M., & Kramer, S. J. (2007). Inner work life: The hidden subtext of business performance. Harvard Business Review, 85(5), 72-83.

Dane, E. (2011). Paying Attention to Mindfulness and Its Effects on Task Performance in the Workplace.Journal of Management, 37(4), 997-1018.

Ocasio, W. (1997). Towards An Attention-Based View Of The Firm. Strategic Management Journal, 18, 187–206

Rerup, C. (2009). Attentional Triangulation: Learning from Unexpected Rare Crises Organization Science, 20(5), 876-893.

Weick K. W., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (2001). Managing the unexpected. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Zeidan, F., Johnson, S.K.., Diamond, B.J. David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(2), 597-605.

Contact:

In the first instance, please send your statement of interest and/or a draft research proposal to
Dr. Jutta Tobias at jutta.tobias@cranfield.ac.uk
Dr. Andrey Pavlov at andrey.pavlov@cranfield.ac.uk


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