Showing posts with label human development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human development. Show all posts

Monday, March 23, 2015

Leadership and Moral Reasoning Set the Standards for Others

Moral reasoning is as important today as it was in the past. It could be argued that with the growth in society and the increase in the size of structures that moral reasoning is even more important today. Business and civic leaders that have obtained and support moral reasoning are at a higher level of development than others. It is these highly developed people that should be leading organizations to new levels of performance. A paper in the Journal Business Ethics: A European Review helps highlights how moral reasoning impacts intra-firm networks and the values others maintain (Kulkari & Sobodh, 2014).

Human development and moral reasoning move together hand-in-hand. People who are less developed have a harder time thinking beyond what is of benefit to themselves. The authors have used 6 stages or moral reasoning where the stages 1-4 are primarily concerned with fear, self-interest, and following the rules for personal gain. Only in stages 5 and 6 can one claim moral leadership that thinks beyond oneself and into the greater purpose of action.

Law helps us define what societal expectations are and provide guidelines for citizens to follow. Organizations are bound to follow these laws in employment practices, pollution, operations, etc.. to ensure that their practices do not damage society.  Most business leaders follow these rules based upon self-interest and the fear of punishment. This is necessary to keep everyone in good order and society moving forward.

Beyond self-interest are higher stages of development where moral-reasoning includes doing the right thing in difficult situations. Moral leaders have freed themselves from the constraints of fear to a place where they seek to exceed the standards of law. They understand a greater purpose of keeping society free from unfair actions and immoral decisions that infringe on others.

For example, at the lower levels of human development a CEO may put in place the minimum legal requirements to curb pollution while seeking to skirt as many rules as possible. In the mid levels of development the same CEO may wish to follow the rules strictly and proclaim their business is "Green" as a marketing tool. A highly developed CEO would seek to ensure their business is not damaging the environment based upon moral values while not ignoring the benefits that come from being a good corporate citizen.

Position doesn't necessarily determine morality of the person. A person could be in a position of authority and still stuck at lower levels of development. For example, a CEO may create predatory practices and justify that position as a benefit to stakeholders, a DA could raise their arrest numbers but violate more rights in an effort to "clean up" a city, or a politician could take a bribe and vote on a new project saying it is the best interest of everyone.  Authority and moral development are not tightly associated and often contradict each other.

The journal article highlights the importance of ensuring that those with solid moral reasoning rise to the top of the societal structure. Moral reasoning of the leader impacts the moral value systems of everyone else.  Their behavior and decisions prompt others to act in similar manners creating intra-firm transfers of moral expectations. Those expectations become embedded into the culture of the company (or organization) and become a method of approaching future problems.

Moral reasoning is one part of the assessment of leadership qualities. Those with higher levels of moral reasoning are also more developed as people. They create expectations on those around them who are likely to mirror their behavior and perception. Encouraging high quality people with leadership potential to make their way to the top of organizations helps to ensure that the right expectations of moral reasoning and ethical performance are standardized.

Kulkari, S. & Subodh, R. (2014). Intra-firm transfer of best practices in moral reasoning: a conceptual framework. Business Ethics: A European Review, 23 (1).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Are You Part Neanderthal? Check Your Hair and Teeth

Are you part Neanderthal? Of course we would never consider ourselves to be part brute but that is what our DNA is telling us. A majority of us have a few percentage points of Neanderthal DNA within our bodies. Ironically those things that make us look attractive like hair and teeth are more closely tied to our ancient ancestors. 

Studies in the journal Nature and Science help us think about human development from the beginning of time until now. It is believed the Neanderthal was a northern creature while humans came from Africa. Somewhere along the path they interbred and the Neanderthal died off. Apparently, the males were not so great at breeding when mixed. 

Human development appears to be on a continuum from the past to some marked point in the future. Each child creates a new genetic destiny based upon a historical past and develops something unique. As the environment changes, humans change with it to ensure they able to survive and pass on their genetic code. 

Neanderthals died off due to lack of communication skills and environmental adjustments. Modern language appears to be one of the most defining and beneficial aspects of social development. Where Neanderthals could run around in packs of a half dozen humans can now travel in the thousands.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Understanding the Universal Traits of High Performance

Giftedness is often seen in the context of culture and therefore may only partially explain the phenomenon. The authors Foreman and Renzulli (2012) argue that giftedness should be seen as those unique traits that apply to the population across various cultural vantage points. As each culture emphasizes certain behaviors as appropriate they inherently skew the recognition of the traits that lead to higher performance.  Having universal and global gifted traits will help in the proper identification and development of this unique population.

North American scholars are seen as advanced within their gifted assessment and understanding. They still struggle with finding practical applications of such ability and falter under the multiple perspectives and conceptions. Certain traits may be more universal in nature and transcend local cultures depending on which philosophical perspective the researcher desires to take.

Philosophical traditions focus on different fundamental aspects of truth. This naturally impacts their scientific understandings and can lead to skewed understandings. For example, pragmatist’s perspectives by William James and John Dewey believe that truth is from putting concepts into practice.

Social constructionists would argue that science is culturally oriented and cannot be easily separated unless one believes in a global culture. Pragmatists focus on emic and etic understandings while constructionists focus more on the emic side. Emic looks at the person within a culture while etic is focused on universal traits that can be applied to other cultures.

The author argues that understanding giftedness should now move beyond culture to more pragmatic etic approaches whereby the traits have universal application. Culture, when studying the gifted, can be seen as a bias, whereby specific traits are accepted or rejected only because they have or do not have cultural relevance to the people judging them.

Let us put this to an example. You have two tribes. One tribe values hunting while the other tribe values writing. If a gifted person is raised as a hunter and excels in this skill and is then transferred to the other tribe they would be viewed as less competent. The person may have been able to master both but has no training or experience in the other culturally laden occupation.

The author argues that giftedness research should begin to focus more closely on universal traits. Through universal traits that apply across multiple cultures a more beneficial understanding can be found and applied for development. Through new theoretical and culturally neutral approaches the research can advance to higher levels of understanding and development.

Comment: If gifted is primarily a biological trait that cannot be ignored or thwarted then it will be universal in its nature. If that development includes a more connected brain that efficiently processes information and sees the multiple possibilities of different situations then culture will determine how it is manifested. Depending on culture, family, and educational perspective the gifted will be pushed down varying paths as artists, laborers, theorists, sports players, religious figures, writers, actors, etc. through the value projections of their upbringing.

Foreman, J. & Runzulli, J. (2012). Culture, globalization and the study of giftedness: reflections on persson’s analysis and recommendations for future research. Gifted and Talented International, 27 (1)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Human Potential and Excitability as it Relates to Gender

Understanding higher development is important for strengthening the connections in performance for employees, students, and professionals. The ability to recognize these potentials at a younger age is important for grooming and development. Educators often assume there are sex differences in the types of excitable potentials but research by Wirthwein, L. et. al. (2011) helps us understand this may not be the case.

The concept of overexitability (OE) was proposed by Debrowski with his theory of positive disintegration. Without OE gifted individuals cannot develop beyond the average level.  He defined it as, “overall developmental potential is composed of specific talents, abilities, intelligence and OEs. OE is understood as a biologically rooted super sensitivity or over-reaction to external as well as internal stimuli” (Ackerman, 2009). Others have defined it as “modes of enhanced mental functioning (Piechowski & Colangelo, 1984).

As a person experiences internal states of conflict brought about by their high sensitivity to drawing in information they move through periods of disintegration. They smash their concept of self and reform that concept at a higher level. The more they smash and rebuild, the higher the level of development. Some may reach a level 5 where their internal and external states are in alliance and they are considered the profound individuals experienced in history books.  At this point, they are at the highest state of human development and have their own personality autonomous from society and its norms.

The Five types of OE’s are as follows:

-Psychomotor (high levels of energy and physical activity)
-Sensual (enriched sensory experiences)
-Imaginational (rich associations of images and impressions)
-Emotional (high intensity of feelings)
-Intellectual (avid pursuit of knowledge and theoretical analysis).

The researchers conducted studies using those with intellectual giftedness as this correlates to higher levels of academic performance. They studied German 3rd graders and then tested them again at 15.3 years of age. All participants had IQs above 135 and showed other signs of potential development. OE’s were assessed through the OEQII.

The results indicated that there wasn’t a statistical difference between males and females in the type of OE’s experienced. It is often believed that males showed intellectual and psychomotor while females displayed emotional and sensual OE’s. Their report indicates that this may not be true. Development is gender neutral.


 Even though the report does not include this concept it is possible that the results match up to the higher androgynous sex identities that incorporate both male and female traits (as defined by social norms) into a higher sense of being.  The biologists  Ludwig von Bertalanffy introduces the concept of robopath to define most of society. This means that people are focused primarily on either fulfilling their biological needs or strict adherence to social norms without conscious awareness of why and how they are acting. They are unaware of what they believe and why they believe it.  If this is true, then much of society will continue to display the same patterns over and over until something within the environment forces it to change. Could this be why society either rises or falls together? Is it an inability to adjust to new environments, economic realities, or ecological developments?

Ackerman, C. (2009). The essential elements of Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration and how they are connected. Roeper Review, 31.

Piechowski, M. & Colangelo, N. (1984). Developmental potential of the gifted. Gifted Child Quarterly, 28.

Wirthwein, L. et. al. (2011). Overexcitabilities in gifted and non-gifted adults: does sex matter? High Ability Studies, 22 (2).

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What Can Sharks, Bees and Humans Teach Us About Urban Development?

Torrey Pines
Sharks, Bees and Humans forage and explore in many of the same ways.  Researchers at University of Arizona studied the foraging and exploring patterns of a number of creatures in their habitats (1). In particular, they looked at the Hadza people of Tanzania who still forage and hunt in the same way that our ancestors did. To their amazement, they found similar patterns of activities among broad species.

The pattern is known as the Levy walk and is based on mathematical principles. The same patterns exist when foraging for food or walking around an amusement park (2). It entails short movements around a particular area and then longer movements into newer areas.

Co-author and anthropologist Brian Woods from Yale states, “Detecting this pattern among the Hadza, as has been found in several other species, tells us that such patterns are likely the result of general foraging strategies that many species adopt, across a wide variety of contexts” (3).  They argue that understanding how these patterns work may eventually influence urban development.

It is possible that this process is based on our evolutionary development to create net effects in an area. The short movements help us find the things we need for survival. Once an area is canvassed, we then move to change the environment and search again in a new area. At present, the researchers desire to conduct more studies to determine the actual reasons for and how these patterns may have influenced the societal development (4).

Putting this within an urban context, we may find that having local pockets of retail to serve basic needs of local residents with larger commercial areas could have some benefit. People will forage their neighborhoods and walk to the local grocery store but will naturally drive to shop at larger retailers or commercial districts. Getting people out of their houses and walking around can have a large impact on social cohesion and health. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Biopsycholosocial (BPS) of Economic Development

The Biopsychosocial model (BPS) seeks to understand economic social development through the Epistemology, Anthropology, and Ethics. All economic systems are fundamentally based in human development. By broadening the scope of economic theory beyond the limited perspectives of finance a greater “truth” can be found. The authors Canadas & Giordano (2010) postulate that using additional constructs helps balance out the limited assumptions of major economic models. 

All economics is based off of innovative development. This development is inherently social by nature but also includes biological development and psychological processes. Humans make decisions at a very fundamental neurological level which impacts the decisions they make.  These decisions impact how the economy develops and the decisions society makes.

Epistemological Component: Understanding how people make decisions impacts the overall success of the economy and the way in which the economy leans. Milton Friedman believed that all predictions of the market could be wrong but are approximately true; at least to those making the assumptions. Each market works under basic economic assumptions that impact the way people think, how they obtain resources and how they spend those resources.

Anthropological Approach: The total human and all of his benefits and detractors live within the economic system. Seeing humans through a biological, social, and psychological approach helps in understanding how they make decisions to further their interests and survival. Understanding and predicting human behavior can help in solving economic problems. 

The Ethical Component: All resource allocation decisions are moral questions. According to von Hayek, “economic activity provides the material means for all our needs” (von Hayek, 1962, 49). Each human makes economic decisions based upon how fair and equitable distribution of rewards should be realized. Economics should consider the common good and social stability within its policy decisions. 

To the authors, humans innovate their environment. This innovation comes from collaborative efforts that create “collective intelligence” that helps to create greater tools for resource attainment. Economics is often focused on high ended and easily measurable economic tools but often forgets the “real” factors that lead to economic activity. Most economists are now coming to the conclusion that simply money measuring is not enough and human behavior must be part of the process of prediction. 

As humans developed throughout history economic exchanges encouraged the development of collective intelligence. This collective intelligence comes from how people make decisions that lead to divisions of labor, mutual beneficial knowledge, and facilitate human development and speeds up cultural and economic development. It is humans interacting with each other and developing off of each other that lead to the highest societal and economic growth. 

Canadas, A. & Alejandro, G. (2010). A Philosophically-based Biopsychosocial Model of Economics: Evolutionary Perspectives of Human Resource Utilization and the Need for an Integrative, Multi-disciplinary Approach to Economics.  International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5 (8). 

Von Hayek, Friedrich A. The moral element in free enterprise. In The morality of capitalism, ed
Mark W. Hendrickson, 49-57. New York: Irvington-on-Hudson, 1962.