The Neuroscience of Organizational Culture

The Neuroscience of Organizational Culture

While the case studies that Siegel provides involve individuals in a psychiatric treatment environment or in which a specific pathology or health care is the focus, mindfulness techniques have been applied in organizations. Aikens et al (2014) describe a study in which mindfulness practices were applied to reduce stress in an organization, but also comments on the health benefits of these techniques:

Traditionally delivered MBSR programs, which teach core mindfulness concepts, have been well researched with beneficial therapeutic effects found in psoriasis, fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, chronic low back pain, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and insomnia. Research also indicates that mindfulness-based therapies are beneficial in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder.

The focus for this essay is primarily on techniques that are applicable in the workplace where formal psychoanalytical interventions, as described by Siegel, are generally difficult to apply. The research conducted by Aikens et al provides a more appropriate insight into how mindfulness related techniques can be applied in the workplace. While Aikens focuses primarily on mindfulness techniques to reduce stress in the workplace, the authors comment as follows:

Our results suggest that mindfulness training is more than just an effective stress management solution, but an efficacious intervention for the development of positive organizational behavior, which can be used throughout the employee base… This (research) indicates that a shortened, web-based mindfulness program can replicate the results of traditionally delivered MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). In addition, program compliance was significant, suggesting that a workplace specific mindfulness intervention is practical within an employer setting.

While these findings and conclusions need to be tested for broader behavioral changes in a corporate culture context, they do provide tangible evidence of how relatively simple techniques can be used to add rigor to culture and behavioral change efforts in corporate settings at a level in which physiological neuronal changes are possible.

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Kevin Weitz

Kevin WeitzKevin is Principle Organizational Consultant with Intel Corporation working with their leadership team to optimize Intel’s culture to support its business strategy into new markets. For over 25 years Kevin has consulted with organizations like Chevron, Levi Strauss & Co, Wells Fargo Bank, Pacific Gas & Electric, British Columbia Hydro and Standard Bank of South Africa on large scale organizational transformational projects. These transformational initiatives are almost always extremely challenging for these organizations, especially for employees and other stakeholders. Kevin’s transformation work focuses on engaging leaders, employees and stakeholders on becoming more adaptable and resilient to constant and disruptive change. Kevin has a master’s degree in business administration and is currently pursuing his doctorate in organizational psychology at the Professional School of Psychology in Sacramento California.

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