Research Topic

Affect and Cognition in Upper Echelons’ Strategic Decision Making: Empirical and Theoretical Studies for Advancing Corporate Governance.

About this Research Topic

Since the advent of the bounded rationality concept, scholars have been committed to
understanding the role of cognition in organizations, by using motivational, social, and
cognitive psychology lenses. As a result of their efforts, research over the last 40 years has
greatly advanced the investigation of upper echelons’ strategic decision-making processes, in
which top managers and board directors are regarded as playing a pivotal role in shaping
organizational outcomes.

Within this updated stream of research, and mainly thanks to the recent advances in
neuroscience studies, the role of affective states – always considered as irrational forces – has
continuously gained momentum within strategic decision-making research, a concept known
as bounded irrationality. The ‘affect revolution’ in research enables the investigation of other
important psychological variables considered to be antecedents or consequences of affective
states – such as personality traits, mental disorders, beliefs, spirituality – dismantling, de
facto, the ‘human black box’.

However, what remains largely unknown is the interplay of
affective states and cognition, considered by some scholars to be two parallel competitive
systems of the human mind. In particular, we know little about how these two intertwine and
influence the scale-up from the individual to collective strategic decision making as well as
financial and nonfinancial performance outcomes.

The proposed Special Issue aims to advance this line of inquiry: investigating the role of
affective states, cognition, and their interplay in upper echelons’ strategic decision making.
Affect and cognition are therefore considered as two parallel cooperative systems of the
the human mind that interact with each other and together relate with the environment in which upper
echelons are embedded and from which are influenced by its factors, such as technology. In
these terms, reviews, conceptual, and empirical contributions trying to provide new insights
into how upper echelons make decisions are appreciated.

Themes that this Research Topic encourages include ( but are not limited to):

• Under what contexts and individual conditions are heuristics beneficial for executives?

• Are affectively evaluated business opportunities as good as analytical evaluated opportunities?

• How do biases co-evolve to influence affective states?

• How do emotional and cognitive spirituality influence executives’ decisions?

• How do biases scale up from the individual to the collective level?

• How do the cognition and/or affective states of stakeholders impact those of executives?

• Do cognitive and affective states play out differently for executives in state or private-owned firms, small and medium-sized enterprises or big firms, family firms, and startups?

• Can affective states be measured and assessed by artificial intelligence to improve decision making?

• How does artificial intelligence create new perspectives on bounded rationality and bounded irrationality?

• Can artificial intelligence expand rationality while reducing irrationality?

• Does AI help to draw a new demarcation between rationality and irrationality by rule-based decision making?

• What kind of psychological or cognitive attributes are more likely to influence executives’ decisions related to non-financial firm outcomes such as corporate social responsibility or sustainability? What situational factors are likely to moderate this relationship?


Keywords: Strategic decision making, Corporate governance, Affect, Cognition, Strategic leadership


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Since the advent of the bounded rationality concept, scholars have been committed to
understanding the role of cognition in organizations, by using motivational, social, and
cognitive psychology lenses. As a result of their efforts, research over the last 40 years has
greatly advanced the investigation of upper echelons’ strategic decision-making processes, in
which top managers and board directors are regarded as playing a pivotal role in shaping
organizational outcomes.

Within this updated stream of research, and mainly thanks to the recent advances in
neuroscience studies, the role of affective states – always considered as irrational forces – has
continuously gained momentum within strategic decision-making research, a concept known
as bounded irrationality. The ‘affect revolution’ in research enables the investigation of other
important psychological variables considered to be antecedents or consequences of affective
states – such as personality traits, mental disorders, beliefs, spirituality – dismantling, de
facto, the ‘human black box’.

However, what remains largely unknown is the interplay of
affective states and cognition, considered by some scholars to be two parallel competitive
systems of the human mind. In particular, we know little about how these two intertwine and
influence the scale-up from the individual to collective strategic decision making as well as
financial and nonfinancial performance outcomes.

The proposed Special Issue aims to advance this line of inquiry: investigating the role of
affective states, cognition, and their interplay in upper echelons’ strategic decision making.
Affect and cognition are therefore considered as two parallel cooperative systems of the
the human mind that interact with each other and together relate with the environment in which upper
echelons are embedded and from which are influenced by its factors, such as technology. In
these terms, reviews, conceptual, and empirical contributions trying to provide new insights
into how upper echelons make decisions are appreciated.

Themes that this Research Topic encourages include ( but are not limited to):

• Under what contexts and individual conditions are heuristics beneficial for executives?

• Are affectively evaluated business opportunities as good as analytical evaluated opportunities?

• How do biases co-evolve to influence affective states?

• How do emotional and cognitive spirituality influence executives’ decisions?

• How do biases scale up from the individual to the collective level?

• How do the cognition and/or affective states of stakeholders impact those of executives?

• Do cognitive and affective states play out differently for executives in state or private-owned firms, small and medium-sized enterprises or big firms, family firms, and startups?

• Can affective states be measured and assessed by artificial intelligence to improve decision making?

• How does artificial intelligence create new perspectives on bounded rationality and bounded irrationality?

• Can artificial intelligence expand rationality while reducing irrationality?

• Does AI help to draw a new demarcation between rationality and irrationality by rule-based decision making?

• What kind of psychological or cognitive attributes are more likely to influence executives’ decisions related to non-financial firm outcomes such as corporate social responsibility or sustainability? What situational factors are likely to moderate this relationship?


Keywords: Strategic decision making, Corporate governance, Affect, Cognition, Strategic leadership


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

26 March 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

26 March 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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