Rhetorica’s first business Ph.D. will answer that. Together with the Department of Business & Politics of the Copenhagen Business School and the Swedish pharmaceuticals company Sobi, the project will during the coming three years provide valuable knowledge about the role of emotions in our way of arguing when it comes to business critical decisions.

 1 
...feel free to share our articles :)

 

By Marcus Lantz 

Imagine that as a member of the executive board you are to attempt to convince your colleagues that you should bet on a large development project. There are arguments for and against it. At the same time, there are a number of uncertain factors: the quantity of information, the existing experience, time, various political interests, how competitors act, the expectation of the market etc. So what do you base your decision on? Which arguments will in the final instance hold the balance? On the one hand, the dilemma is what makes modern leadership challenging and exciting. On the other hand, to say the least it makes business critical decisions difficult.

 

The irrational human being

In any enterprise as in life in general, important decisions must be made. The most difficult and most business critical decisions end up with the management. And then it is up to the management to decide the basis on which the decisions are made. What arguments should be allowed to affect the question whether investments should be made in e.g. the development of new products or services? Should it be the logical analyses based on large quantities of data? Or is careful consideration without absolute certainty enough?

To many people, the ideal is that important decisions are based on thorough analysis of solid data. What is interesting is that often this is not the case. 50 years of research in the field of decision theory have shown that human beings are not nearly as rational as is assumed by conventional economic models. This has been identified by e.g. Herbert Simon (who received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1978) and Daniel Kahneman (who received the same prize together with his now deceased colleague Amos Tversky in 2002).

 

What is emotional argumentation?

In the project, I define the term emotional argumentation as an interaction where a person attempts to substantiate a claim by using reasons that are more emotional and often value-based than actually logical. It could for example be not to aim for developing a specific product because it would not be in the spirit of the founders. There may indeed also be logical reasons for this, but they do not always come first.

 

Why focus on emotional argumentation?

Rhetorica’s business Ph.D. is about the important decisions we make and which we cannot base only on figures and formulae. By observing a number of board and management meetings at Sobi’s, I will investigate how emotional argumentation plays a role in the decisions that are made. For even though we could base our decisions completely on figures and formulae it would often take far too long to collect the quantities of data let alone analyse it (in future it will probably change drastically in step with artificial intelligence and supercomputers). Values, gut feelings, emotions and past experience still play a decisive role in spite of data.

Christian Kock, professor of rhetoric and co-supervisor on the project, has written about the form of value-based argumentation we use when we try to give reasons for future actions. According to Christian Kock, we should not talk about true or false options. Values and feelings guide us to make the decision that we believe is best on the most informed basis. But only when the decision has been realised can we finally decide whether we were right. For example we can discuss for society as a whole whether we should invest more in hospitals or care of the elderly.

Correspondingly, an enterprise can choose to invest in developing a specific product that is in demand in the “market” or consolidate its position based on existing products/services. Both can appear to make very good sense - on several bottom lines. The point is that there are good arguments on both sides and in many cases great uncertainty as to what the future will bring. That makes the decision difficult (and often impossible to figure out on the basis of the existing mathematical models).

 

CRISP decision-making

Making so-called “CRISP decisions” is decisive for whether an enterprise does well, says Dennis Pedersen, Sobi’s head of HR who has been an important motive force behind the collaboration between Rhetorica and Sobi. “At Sobi’s, we have a vision of CRISP decision-making that is identical with being able to make sound decisions of high quality as quickly as possible. That means that we must have the courage to make quick decisions and at the same time learn from our errors and experience.”

Dennis Pedersen emphasises that Sobi does not participate in the project for altruistic reasons: Sobi is convinced that it is decisive to the core business to become more aware of how decisions are made at the highest level - and if possible improve them.

 

High ambitions

A business Ph.D. takes three years. During the more than 1,000 days, our ambition is to be able to develop a theoretical model of how rhetoric and argumentation affect decision-making. With this model, we want to describe how senior executives use emotional argumentation when they attempt to influence decisions. More specifically, I am to observe a number of management and board meetings at Sobi’s in order to map out the argumentation that results in decisions.

On the basis of those observations, I will formulate a number of rhetorical principles that can improve decision-making processes and the argumentation that is part of these processes.

Decision theory and making better decisions are subjects that are extremely popular at the moment so can the project contribute with new knowledge at all? If we search on the Web of Science, which is an overall database of published scientific articles since the year 1900, the word “decision-making” can be found in more than 256,000 titles. In other words, it is a field that is very much in demand. On the other hand, there are still many outstanding questions as to how feelings affect decision-making. Questions that the world’s leading researchers in the field have not answered yet. Therefore, there is a gap in the research literature that this Ph.D. project will contribute to closing.

 

When the decision has been made

Back to the board room or management office. You have now reached a decisive point in your internal negotiations. You have presented your visions and your past experience and with analysis and statistics you have attempted to argue that you should stake more than DKK 800 million over the coming six years on an extremely ambitious development project. There is still scepticism. Eventually, your CEO comes into her own and emphasises that she believes in the project - in spite of the uncertainty: “We must show courage in this trade,” she says. That is the end of 18 months of hard work. You get the go-ahead.

The coming years will show whether the decision you made is the best decision for the enterprise. Did the analyses prove correct? Did the assumptions stand up to scrutiny? Did the market and the competitors act as you had expected? Our Ph.D. project will also make us wiser as to how courage and other values, gut feeling and emotions affect the argumentation that contributes to making business critical decisions. Be updated at Rhetorica’s LinkedIn profile

 

 1 

 

 

Read more

About fast and more thoughtful decisions: Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, 2011.

About action-based argumentation: Christian Kock. ”Choice is not true or false: The domain of rhetorical argumentation”, Argumentation, 23, 2009.

For the nerds: Herbert Simon, “Rational Decision-Making in Business Organizations”, 1978

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 1 
...feel free to share our articles :)

 

By Marcus Lantz 

Imagine that as a member of the executive board you are to attempt to convince your colleagues that you should bet on a large development project. There are arguments for and against it. At the same time, there are a number of uncertain factors: the quantity of information, the existing experience, time, various political interests, how competitors act, the expectation of the market etc. So what do you base your decision on? Which arguments will in the final instance hold the balance? On the one hand, the dilemma is what makes modern leadership challenging and exciting. On the other hand, to say the least it makes business critical decisions difficult.

 

The irrational human being

In any enterprise as in life in general, important decisions must be made. The most difficult and most business critical decisions end up with the management. And then it is up to the management to decide the basis on which the decisions are made. What arguments should be allowed to affect the question whether investments should be made in e.g. the development of new products or services? Should it be the logical analyses based on large quantities of data? Or is careful consideration without absolute certainty enough?

To many people, the ideal is that important decisions are based on thorough analysis of solid data. What is interesting is that often this is not the case. 50 years of research in the field of decision theory have shown that human beings are not nearly as rational as is assumed by conventional economic models. This has been identified by e.g. Herbert Simon (who received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1978) and Daniel Kahneman (who received the same prize together with his now deceased colleague Amos Tversky in 2002).

 

What is emotional argumentation?

In the project, I define the term emotional argumentation as an interaction where a person attempts to substantiate a claim by using reasons that are more emotional and often value-based than actually logical. It could for example be not to aim for developing a specific product because it would not be in the spirit of the founders. There may indeed also be logical reasons for this, but they do not always come first.

 

Why focus on emotional argumentation?

Rhetorica’s business Ph.D. is about the important decisions we make and which we cannot base only on figures and formulae. By observing a number of board and management meetings at Sobi’s, I will investigate how emotional argumentation plays a role in the decisions that are made. For even though we could base our decisions completely on figures and formulae it would often take far too long to collect the quantities of data let alone analyse it (in future it will probably change drastically in step with artificial intelligence and supercomputers). Values, gut feelings, emotions and past experience still play a decisive role in spite of data.

Christian Kock, professor of rhetoric and co-supervisor on the project, has written about the form of value-based argumentation we use when we try to give reasons for future actions. According to Christian Kock, we should not talk about true or false options. Values and feelings guide us to make the decision that we believe is best on the most informed basis. But only when the decision has been realised can we finally decide whether we were right. For example we can discuss for society as a whole whether we should invest more in hospitals or care of the elderly.

Correspondingly, an enterprise can choose to invest in developing a specific product that is in demand in the “market” or consolidate its position based on existing products/services. Both can appear to make very good sense - on several bottom lines. The point is that there are good arguments on both sides and in many cases great uncertainty as to what the future will bring. That makes the decision difficult (and often impossible to figure out on the basis of the existing mathematical models).

 

CRISP decision-making

Making so-called “CRISP decisions” is decisive for whether an enterprise does well, says Dennis Pedersen, Sobi’s head of HR who has been an important motive force behind the collaboration between Rhetorica and Sobi. “At Sobi’s, we have a vision of CRISP decision-making that is identical with being able to make sound decisions of high quality as quickly as possible. That means that we must have the courage to make quick decisions and at the same time learn from our errors and experience.”

Dennis Pedersen emphasises that Sobi does not participate in the project for altruistic reasons: Sobi is convinced that it is decisive to the core business to become more aware of how decisions are made at the highest level - and if possible improve them.

 

High ambitions

A business Ph.D. takes three years. During the more than 1,000 days, our ambition is to be able to develop a theoretical model of how rhetoric and argumentation affect decision-making. With this model, we want to describe how senior executives use emotional argumentation when they attempt to influence decisions. More specifically, I am to observe a number of management and board meetings at Sobi’s in order to map out the argumentation that results in decisions.

On the basis of those observations, I will formulate a number of rhetorical principles that can improve decision-making processes and the argumentation that is part of these processes.

Decision theory and making better decisions are subjects that are extremely popular at the moment so can the project contribute with new knowledge at all? If we search on the Web of Science, which is an overall database of published scientific articles since the year 1900, the word “decision-making” can be found in more than 256,000 titles. In other words, it is a field that is very much in demand. On the other hand, there are still many outstanding questions as to how feelings affect decision-making. Questions that the world’s leading researchers in the field have not answered yet. Therefore, there is a gap in the research literature that this Ph.D. project will contribute to closing.

 

When the decision has been made

Back to the board room or management office. You have now reached a decisive point in your internal negotiations. You have presented your visions and your past experience and with analysis and statistics you have attempted to argue that you should stake more than DKK 800 million over the coming six years on an extremely ambitious development project. There is still scepticism. Eventually, your CEO comes into her own and emphasises that she believes in the project - in spite of the uncertainty: “We must show courage in this trade,” she says. That is the end of 18 months of hard work. You get the go-ahead.

The coming years will show whether the decision you made is the best decision for the enterprise. Did the analyses prove correct? Did the assumptions stand up to scrutiny? Did the market and the competitors act as you had expected? Our Ph.D. project will also make us wiser as to how courage and other values, gut feeling and emotions affect the argumentation that contributes to making business critical decisions. Be updated at Rhetorica’s LinkedIn profile

 

 1 

 

 

Read more

About fast and more thoughtful decisions: Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, 2011.

About action-based argumentation: Christian Kock. ”Choice is not true or false: The domain of rhetorical argumentation”, Argumentation, 23, 2009.

For the nerds: Herbert Simon, “Rational Decision-Making in Business Organizations”, 1978

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 1 
...feel free to share our articles :)

 

By Marcus Lantz 

Imagine that as a member of the executive board you are to attempt to convince your colleagues that you should bet on a large development project. There are arguments for and against it. At the same time, there are a number of uncertain factors: the quantity of information, the existing experience, time, various political interests, how competitors act, the expectation of the market etc. So what do you base your decision on? Which arguments will in the final instance hold the balance? On the one hand, the dilemma is what makes modern leadership challenging and exciting. On the other hand, to say the least it makes business critical decisions difficult.

 

The irrational human being

In any enterprise as in life in general, important decisions must be made. The most difficult and most business critical decisions end up with the management. And then it is up to the management to decide the basis on which the decisions are made. What arguments should be allowed to affect the question whether investments should be made in e.g. the development of new products or services? Should it be the logical analyses based on large quantities of data? Or is careful consideration without absolute certainty enough?

To many people, the ideal is that important decisions are based on thorough analysis of solid data. What is interesting is that often this is not the case. 50 years of research in the field of decision theory have shown that human beings are not nearly as rational as is assumed by conventional economic models. This has been identified by e.g. Herbert Simon (who received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1978) and Daniel Kahneman (who received the same prize together with his now deceased colleague Amos Tversky in 2002).

 

What is emotional argumentation?

In the project, I define the term emotional argumentation as an interaction where a person attempts to substantiate a claim by using reasons that are more emotional and often value-based than actually logical. It could for example be not to aim for developing a specific product because it would not be in the spirit of the founders. There may indeed also be logical reasons for this, but they do not always come first.

 

Why focus on emotional argumentation?

Rhetorica’s business Ph.D. is about the important decisions we make and which we cannot base only on figures and formulae. By observing a number of board and management meetings at Sobi’s, I will investigate how emotional argumentation plays a role in the decisions that are made. For even though we could base our decisions completely on figures and formulae it would often take far too long to collect the quantities of data let alone analyse it (in future it will probably change drastically in step with artificial intelligence and supercomputers). Values, gut feelings, emotions and past experience still play a decisive role in spite of data.

Christian Kock, professor of rhetoric and co-supervisor on the project, has written about the form of value-based argumentation we use when we try to give reasons for future actions. According to Christian Kock, we should not talk about true or false options. Values and feelings guide us to make the decision that we believe is best on the most informed basis. But only when the decision has been realised can we finally decide whether we were right. For example we can discuss for society as a whole whether we should invest more in hospitals or care of the elderly.

Correspondingly, an enterprise can choose to invest in developing a specific product that is in demand in the “market” or consolidate its position based on existing products/services. Both can appear to make very good sense - on several bottom lines. The point is that there are good arguments on both sides and in many cases great uncertainty as to what the future will bring. That makes the decision difficult (and often impossible to figure out on the basis of the existing mathematical models).

 

CRISP decision-making

Making so-called “CRISP decisions” is decisive for whether an enterprise does well, says Dennis Pedersen, Sobi’s head of HR who has been an important motive force behind the collaboration between Rhetorica and Sobi. “At Sobi’s, we have a vision of CRISP decision-making that is identical with being able to make sound decisions of high quality as quickly as possible. That means that we must have the courage to make quick decisions and at the same time learn from our errors and experience.”

Dennis Pedersen emphasises that Sobi does not participate in the project for altruistic reasons: Sobi is convinced that it is decisive to the core business to become more aware of how decisions are made at the highest level - and if possible improve them.

 

High ambitions

A business Ph.D. takes three years. During the more than 1,000 days, our ambition is to be able to develop a theoretical model of how rhetoric and argumentation affect decision-making. With this model, we want to describe how senior executives use emotional argumentation when they attempt to influence decisions. More specifically, I am to observe a number of management and board meetings at Sobi’s in order to map out the argumentation that results in decisions.

On the basis of those observations, I will formulate a number of rhetorical principles that can improve decision-making processes and the argumentation that is part of these processes.

Decision theory and making better decisions are subjects that are extremely popular at the moment so can the project contribute with new knowledge at all? If we search on the Web of Science, which is an overall database of published scientific articles since the year 1900, the word “decision-making” can be found in more than 256,000 titles. In other words, it is a field that is very much in demand. On the other hand, there are still many outstanding questions as to how feelings affect decision-making. Questions that the world’s leading researchers in the field have not answered yet. Therefore, there is a gap in the research literature that this Ph.D. project will contribute to closing.

 

When the decision has been made

Back to the board room or management office. You have now reached a decisive point in your internal negotiations. You have presented your visions and your past experience and with analysis and statistics you have attempted to argue that you should stake more than DKK 800 million over the coming six years on an extremely ambitious development project. There is still scepticism. Eventually, your CEO comes into her own and emphasises that she believes in the project - in spite of the uncertainty: “We must show courage in this trade,” she says. That is the end of 18 months of hard work. You get the go-ahead.

The coming years will show whether the decision you made is the best decision for the enterprise. Did the analyses prove correct? Did the assumptions stand up to scrutiny? Did the market and the competitors act as you had expected? Our Ph.D. project will also make us wiser as to how courage and other values, gut feeling and emotions affect the argumentation that contributes to making business critical decisions. Be updated at Rhetorica’s LinkedIn profile

 

 1 

 

 

Read more

About fast and more thoughtful decisions: Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, 2011.

About action-based argumentation: Christian Kock. ”Choice is not true or false: The domain of rhetorical argumentation”, Argumentation, 23, 2009.

For the nerds: Herbert Simon, “Rational Decision-Making in Business Organizations”, 1978

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Rhetorica’s first business Ph.D. will answer that. Together with the Department of Business & Politics of the Copenhagen Business School and the Swedish pharmaceuticals company Sobi, the project will during the coming three years provide valuable knowledge about the role of emotions in our way of arguing when it comes to business critical decisions.
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