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Social Cognitive Neuroscience in Corporate HRM Proposal

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Updated: Dec 25th, 2020

Research Topic

To operate in the contemporary competitive business world, companies must encourage their staff members to develop an array of skills associated with decision-making, critical thinking, innovativeness, resourcefulness, etc. (Bocken, Short, Rana & Evans 2014). Therefore, changes must be made to HR strategies on both leadership- and management-related levels. Thus, staff members will develop the required amount of independence and at the same time be easily controlled by managers. For this purpose, the use of social cognitive neuroscience (SCN) will have to be considered (Spreng & Andrews-Hanna 2015).

It is expected that the application of SCN will be compatible with the leadership strategies that are aimed at enhancing employees’ motivation and leading to a steep rise in the levels of corporate loyalty. Thus, SCN can become an integral part of the corporate HRM system.

Literature Review

Although studies of cognitive processes might seem too distant from leadership and management thematically, recent research points to the fact that adopting neuroscience-related strategies in an organizational environment are likely to lead to impressively positive outcomes (Waldman, Balthazard & Peterson, 2011). Deepening the understanding of the subject matter is bound to open a plethora of opportunities for enhancing decision-making processes in a corporate setting (Butler 2017). Particularly, Butler (2017) refers to organizational cognitive processes (OCN) as the tools for introducing the concept of co-production into the organizational design and, therefore, improving the performance of the staff to a considerable extent. The secret to the identified approach lies in the opportunity to acquire the ability to think critically and make decisions based on a quick analysis of extrinsic and intrinsic factors on a cognitive level (Waldman, Balthazard & Peterson 2009).

Furthermore, a cognitive approach as the means of boosting staff’s performance can be combined with an inspirational leadership strategy, according to Waldman, Balthazard, and Peterson (2011). Consequently, a significant obstacle that typically poses a threat to a successful application of changes in an organizational setting can be avoided successfully. Namely, the issue of resistance toward change, which can be observed among employees during a redesign of corporate strategies, can be managed efficiently by increasing motivation, loyalty, and engagement levels among staff members (Dahl 2016).

Research also shows that the emphasis on a collective vision and reinforcement of corporate values, as well as the concept to which Waldman, Balthazard, and Peterson (2009) referred as the “collective ‘we’” (p. 65), also affects the increase in both performance and corporate loyalty levels among employees. Thus, stressing the importance of team building and active endorsement of corporate values must be viewed as a priority when introducing staff members to cognitive neuroscience techniques. Put differently, organization members must define themselves as part and parcel of a company, at the same time realizing their individuality and using their unique assets to contribute to the corporate growth (Hyder, Ansari, Ramish, Yasir & Fasih 2017).

It would be wrong to claim, though, that the subject matter is entirely devoid of controversy. For instance, Butler, O’Broin, Lee, and Senior (2015) point to the fact that the identified strategy is often associated with mind-controlling. Therefore, OCN must be used with caution to respect the rights and independence of staff members (Liu, Jing & Gao 2015).

Gaps in the Literature

Although the effects that strategies based on cognitive neuroscience can have on business performance were considered in recent studies, the connection between using the specified approach in a corporate setting and the efficacy of employees’ performance is yet to be explored (Venturella, Gatti, Vanutelli & Balconi 2017). Furthermore, the link between neuroscience and leadership remains to be proven, according to Waldman, Balthazard, and Peterson (2011). Because of the uniqueness of a human brain, vast studies will have to be carried out to prove that the positive effects that cognitive neuroscience has on corporate performance are not coincidences but, instead, expected results (Uslu 2017).


To test the efficacy of the OCN approach, one will have to carry out a case study where the effects of the proposed framework will be documented and analyzed carefully. The use of a case study design is justified by the fact that, apart from defining the effects of the OCN tool, one will also have to explore the nature thereof and how it interacts with a corporate setting. As a result, conclusions about the efficacy of the OCN approach can be made (Dubey, ‎Kothari & Awari 2016).

The case study will have to include a sample size of 20 participants to ensure a comprehensive analysis. The research will be conducted in the environment of a specific organization (Hartas 2015). Although the results of the analysis will have to be generalized to make them applicable to other corporate settings, the use of the identified environment will help explore both positive and negative outcomes of OCN as a tool for performance enhancement. To be more specific, how an OCN-based strategy will interact with external factors such as time pressure, a rise in competition levels, etc., will be explored (Edmonds & Kennedy 2016).


Bocken, NM, Short, SW, Rana, P & Evans, S 2014, ‘A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes’, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 65, no, 1, pp. 42-56.

Butler, MJ 2017, ‘Organizational cognitive neuroscience–potential (non-) implications for practice’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 564-575.

Butler, MJ, O’Broin, HL, Lee, N & Senior, C 2015, ‘How organizational cognitive neuroscience can deepen understanding of managerial decision‐making: a review of the recent literature and future directions’, International Journal of Management Reviews, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 542-559.

Dahl, RE 2016, ‘The developmental neuroscience of adolescence: revisiting, refining, and extending seminal models’, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 17, no. 16, pp. 101-102.

Dubey, U, ‎Kothari, DP & Awari, GK 2016, Quantitative techniques in business, management and finance: a case-study approach, CRC Press. Chicago, IL.

Edmonds, WA & Kennedy, TD 2016, An applied guide to research designs: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods, 2nd edn, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Hartas. D 2015, Educational research and inquiry: qualitative and quantitative approaches, Bloomsbury Publishing, Chicago, IL.

Hyder, SI, Ansari, J, Ramish, MS, Yasir, M & Fasih, T 2017, ‘Emerging role of ontology based repository in business management research’, Journal of Organizational Knowledge Management, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 1-17.

Liu, Y, Jing, Y & Gao, M 2015, ‘Transformational leadership: from the perspective of neurological leadership’, Open Journal of Leadership, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 143-152.

Spreng, RN & Andrews-Hanna, JR 2015, ‘The default network and social cognition’, Brain Mapping: An Encyclopedic Reference, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 165-169.

Uslu, T 2017, ‘Studying the decision making mechanism in organizational context through the behavioral game theory according to cognitive psychology’, Journal of Cognitive Science Open Access, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 3-8.

Venturella, I, Gatti, L, Vanutelli, ME & Balconi, M 2017, ‘When brains dialogue by synchronized or unsynchronized languages. Hyperscanning applications to neuromanagement’, Neuropsychological Trends, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 35-52.

Waldman, DA, Balthazard, PA & Peterson, SJ 2009, ‘Can we revolutionize the way that inspirational leaders are identified and developed?’ Information Systems, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 60-75.

Waldman, DA, Balthazard, PA & Peterson, SJ 2011, ‘Social cognitive neuroscience and leadership’, The Leadership Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 1092-1106.

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