Management Organizational Neuroscience
Angela M. Passarelli
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 November 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0076


Organizational neuroscience (ON) is an emerging research domain within the field of management that integrates organizational behavior with neuroscience. Stimulated by recent advances in neuroimaging, ON involves the identification of neural substrates and their functioning as they relate to social-cognitive phenomena in organizational contexts. Although a relatively new approach in management research, ON—also referred to as organizational cognitive neuroscience (OCN)—is rooted in “social neuroscience” which emerged as a field in the 1980s by integrating the fields of social psychology and neuroscience. A strong complement to organizational behavior, social neuroscience entails a multilevel approach involving factors both internal to the individual (individual differences, internal mental processes) and external to the individual (environmental factors, organizational contexts). Organizational behavior is not the first discipline within the broad domain of “business” to adopt a neuroscientific perspective. Economics and marketing have both turned to neuroscience to help elucidate human behavior via its neural origins. Neuroscientists employ direct measures of brain activity using such methods as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and magnetoencephalography (MEG). These tools open a new level of analysis to organizational researchers and hold the promise of addressing new questions, resolving long-standing debates, and unifying theories. Although powerful analytic tools, these methodologies also have drawbacks. For example, a high level of expertise is required to design, execute, and analyze neuroscience studies. Furthermore, the data is relatively time consuming and expensive to collect and is confined to the laboratory (at this point). Given the constraints of neuroimaging, it is advisable to extend the concept of ON to include both direct measures of cognitive activity (fMRI, EEG, MEG) as well as indirect measures of brain activity (cardiovascular, electrodermal, hormonal). The latter set of measures is derived from the broader field of psychophysiology, in which measures acquired from the periphery provide insight into cognitive functions that originate in the brain. As organizational neuroscience is nascent, many of the resources contained in this bibliography are drawn from outside disciplines. This is intended to inform the integration of neuroscientific theory and research into the management field.


Given that organizational neuroscience is in its infancy, textbooks directly linking management to neuroscience or psychophysiology are not currently available. However, textbooks from cognitive science, psychology, and medicine provide a basic foundation in neuroscientific principles and research methodologies. Ward 2010 provides an introduction to neural physiology, function, and measurement, as well as a discussion of research relating to higher-order processes of interest to management scholars. Two other texts— Kandel, et al. 2000 and Kolb and Whishaw 2009—offer similar information, but are more technical. For those specifically interested in understanding functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Huettel, et al. 2004 is a good choice. Additionally, Melmed, et al. 2011 provides a foundation for those interested in using hormonal measures.

  • Huettel, Scott A., Allen W. Song, and Gregory McCarthy. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. 2d ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer, 2004.

    NNNIntroduction to functional magnetic resonance imaging, including principles of signal formation and acquisition, research design, statistical data analysis, and ethical considerations. Targeted for a beginner undergraduate or graduate student.

  • Kandel, Eric R., James H. Schwartz, and Thomas M. Jessell, eds. Principles of Neural Science. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

    NNNDescribes the biological basis of neuroscience (highly technical). Two sections of interest to management scholars are Part 7 (“Arousal, Emotion, and Behavior Homeostasis”) and Part 9 (“Language, Thought, Mood, Learning, and Memory”).

  • Kolb, Bryan, and Ian Q. Whishaw. Fundamentals of Neuropsychology. 6th ed. New York: Worth, 2009.

    NNNProvides a scientific explanation of brain anatomy and functioning drawn from research on both human and animal models; describes the functions of key cortical areas as well as higher-order functions such as learning, memory, emotions, language, and attention; also discusses neuropsychological disorders.

  • Melmed, Shlomo, Kenneth S. Polonsky, P. Reed Larsen, and Henry M. Kronenberg. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2011.

    NNNStandard text in medical endocrinology. Useful for overview of hormones and their function and discussion of hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal, and endocrine functioning.

  • Ward, Jaime. The Student’s Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience. 2d ed. New York: Psychology Press, 2010.

    NNNIntroductory textbook on cognitive science containing an overview of anatomy of the brain, various measurement/imaging techniques, and methodological considerations. Thematic chapters of interest include visual attention, memory, language, numeracy, executive functioning, and social-emotional processing.

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