Thursday, September 26, 2013

Strategic Development as a Social and Logical Rational Processes

What is rationality and strategy? According to a paper by Schaefer, et. al (2013) rationality is an interpersonal communication skill versus actual subject knowledge. There is a differentiation between emancipative communication and strategic thinking.  The researchers studied the prefrontal and parietal brain regions that are associated with strategic and communicative reasoning according to the theory of communicative action.  They found that there are two different processes at place when discussing strategic reasoning and social emotional cognitions. Each has their own neural connections that determine actual strategies and the possible effectiveness of those strategies. 

The theory of communicative reasoning by Jurgen Habermas focuses on either success oriented strategic action or social understanding oriented communicative action. Strategic action in this theory is the manipulation of others while communicative reasoning seeks to harmonize actions between the person and their social environment by using language and semantics. They use two different reasoning functions to create an appropriate strategy. 

Rationality has both a social and a logical side. Communicative reasoning is collaborative and strategic reasoning is goal oriented. Each is a means to an end but one takes into consideration the moral dilemmas created through decisions while the other seeks gains regardless of the human outcome. The way in which a person approaches the environment determines the type of logic they are using and where it is based within the neural connections of the brain. 

The research on social perceiving is important because it can help us determine how leaders make decisions strategically. As one uses pure logic without moral reasoning they activate a different set of brain functions to make those determinations. However, by using moral reasoning and an alternative set of brain functioning they can consider such things as the cost of human life or appropriate impact on individuals. Stronger leaders and clear strategy should consider in part both arenas to maximize gains for the greatest amount of people. 

Moral judgments and the ability to see these moral dilemmas is a precursor to appropriate judgment. Pure strategy without moral judgment is considered anti-social by nature and doesn’t take into account the needs of people that the strategy influences. One can think of the psychopath who is strategically accurate in short-term gains but fails to have empathy and consideration over those the decisions impacts. Leadership and strategy should not be inhumane, cold, calculating, or abusive to others but should instead seek a collaborative maximum gain. 

In their study, Schaefer, et. al (2013) studied the brains of individuals as they judged different real life scenarios from a communicative reasoning or strategic perspective. The far majority of participants were able to judge between the two types of approaches. They found that communicative reasoning activated a network of brain areas including the temporal poles, STS, and precuneus. Strategic reasoning showed less activation in these areas of the brain when compared to communicative reasoning.  

The argument furthers the concept that strategy has both an economic and a social aspect. Pure strategic thinking is about creating gain in the market regardless of its consequences on others while communicative reasoning takes into consideration moral concepts. Well balanced strategy should process from the two strategic methods in order to understand the pure logic of decisions but also the moral consequences of such decisions. As most of our world and environment is made of social interpretations and interaction it is this process of considering the possibilities of cooperation that further logical strategic action.

Schaefer, et. al. (2013). Communicative versus strategic rationality: Haberman’s theory of communicative action and the social brain. PloS One, 29 (5).

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