Emotion & intellect LO27035

From: Robert McDonald (McDonald@sba.uconn.edu)
Date: 07/23/01

Replying to LO27019 --

Dear AM and Other Organlearners,

Winfried has hit on an important, yet underexplored component of
organizational learning. The idea of a purely rational, "economic man"
(sic) is quite limited in its capacity to help us understand org behavior.
In consumer behavior, researchers talk about three components: cognition
(intellect), affect (emotion), and conation (behavior).

I have witnessed a similar model in organizations during my twenty years
in business. Unfortunately, it is difficult to simultaneously study
cognition and affect, especially in a group setting.

Emotion is often the result of a comparison of an actual state against a
desired state. If the actual state meets or exceeds desires, then we
experience positive emotions. If not, the emotions are negative. It is
intuitvely important that we study the role of emotion in learning and
change, especially at an organizational level.

There are a number of ways that affect can be a force for change, or for
maintaining the status quo. In consumer behavior, Y1 might be the
expected value that a consumer receives for her or his expenditure. If
the actual value received, Y2, is less than Y1, that consumer is
dissatisfied. This might lead to complaint behavior, switching to another
seller/provider, or spreading negative comments about the provider by word
of mouth.

Learning requires motivation to change from the status quo, at its most
basic level, a change from the current body of knowledge. This motivation
might be to achieve a goal (improved product/process, increased profits,
certification, etc.). When the current state does not equal the desired
state, there is motivation to change, just like adjusting the thermostat
in my home. It might also be interesting to study how the learning is
affected by a "satisfied" state, where the actual state meets or exceeds
the desired state.

Of course, often times, the motivation is not large enough to overcome the
surrounding environment. Just as it would be impossible for my home air
conditioner to cool the city of Houston, Texas, so too an individual's
motivation may not be enough to change an organization's behavior. The
interial forces for maintaining the status quo (Kanter 1988) might be
economic, logistic, political, etc.

Even if the individual's motivation is significant enough, or the
individual can get a critical mass of other individual's motivated enough
to create change, large scale change does not happen instantaneously.
(Similar to Senge's hot water analogy.)

Thank you for an interesting discussion on an important topic.

Bob McDonald

>Thank you very much for your delightful thoughts on "understanding
>knowing". It is a great pleasure to see someone else also pushing the
>limits of mind into the unknown domain of LEP dancing on LEC in the
>spiritual world.

>Accepting the assumptions which you make, I cannot find mentionable
>errors in your thinking. What emotions do to the mind and what entropic
>forces do to physical organising systems is so striking similar that it
>begs us to consider emotions as entropic forces.


Robert McDonald <McDonald@sba.uconn.edu>

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