Does emotion play any role in business decisions?
“Corporations are people.”
Mitt Romney has taken a lot of heat in political primaries for that statement. Not wading into the political specifics, part of his problem was that he simply failed to say that corporations are led and populated by people who make decisions just like other humans.
The economic corollary to Romney’s malapropism is that business decisions are based solely on cold, hard facts. Business training and language reinforce this notion.
It’s not so. We continually see in our motivation research among business decision-makers that this purely rational characterization is incomplete. When we talk with owners and managers of small and midsize businesses about employee benefits, for example, they have plenty to say about the rational reasons for benefits: they help attract and retain. But they pay equal attention to the commitment they feel to their employees.
The challenge in developing product, gaining clients, and building a brand among a business clientele is to understand both the rational and emotional dimensions of their decisions.
Whether the issue is telecommunication, financial services or critical supplies, most business decision-makers consider relationships, confidence, trust and the question, “Do these relationships and services contribute to ‘my’ success?” While these emotions don’t reach the same extremes as “love” and “hate”, they are feelings.