An exploration of intuition among executive leaders using cognitive-experiential self-theory: A phenomenological study

by Simmons, Stephanie E., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2015, 183 pages; 3689990


The value of intuition as a distinct way of knowing has been acknowledged in philosophy, psychology, and the social sciences over the centuries. In a given moment, leaders may find upon introspection that even if one does not consider himself to be an intuitive decision-maker, it was the involuntary nature of intuiting that gives rise to being a recipient of its benefits. The phenomenological study served the existing body of knowledge through its rich analysis of 11 high-level executives' experiences as intuitive decision-makers. It was an examination of personal accounts of how leaders discerned the value of intuition in their daily challenges of a dynamic business environment. Even with the recognition of intuition as a part of everyday decision-making among leaders, business literature was almost silent on its effectiveness and how it was used. With the integration of a dual process system, cognitive experiential self-theory, the study examined the history of theoretical reasoning and evidence in cognitive psychology, social cognition, and the emerging field of social cognitive neuroscience that suggested intuition involved a complex interchange of cognitive and affective components that were experienced by leaders throughout their daily decision-making tasks. The findings of the study revealed that executives arrived at a decision through a mental process they could not readily articulate, intuition, but trusted. Key themes revealed particular characteristics of experiences that resonated among all participants when intuiting. The study further found that participants recognized the physiological responses that caused them to react to recognizable stimuli and take action. Participants' belief and perception of intuition, emotions and feelings associated with intuitive decision-making, and uncommon experiences using intuition were the overarching human identifiers that each leader excelled in that made intuition a phenomenon outside the scope of today's artificial intelligence and unique to higher skilled leaders.

AdviserApril Boyington-Wall
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsBusiness administration; Behavioral psychology; Management
Publication Number3689990

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