Successful managers and leaders need to effectively navigate their organizational worlds, from motivating customers and employees to managing diversity to preventing and resolving conflicts. Perspective-taking is a psychological process that is particularly relevant to each of these activities. The current review critically examines perspective-taking research conducted by both management scholars and social psychologists and specifies perspective-taking's antecedents, consequences, mechanisms, and moderators, as well as identifies theoretical and/or empirical shortfalls. Our summary of the current state of perspective-taking research offers three important contributions. First, we offer a new definition of perspective-taking: the active cognitive process of imagining the world from another's vantage point or imagining oneself in another's shoes to understand their visual viewpoint, thoughts, motivations, intentions, and/or emotions. Second, we highlight that although perspective-taking has many positive benefits for managers and leaders, it also carries with it the potential for perverse effects. Third, we argue that previous theoretical lenses to understand perspective-taking's goal are insufficient in light of all the available evidence. Instead, we offer a new theoretical proposition to capture the full range of perspective-taking's positive and negative effects: perspective-taking helps individuals effectively navigate a world filled with mixed-motive social interactions. Our mixed-motive model of perspective-taking not only captures the current findings but also offers new directions for future research.
Ku, G., C.S. Wang, and Adam Galinsky. "The promise and perversity of perspective-taking in organizations." Research on Organizational Behavior 35 (2015): 79-102.
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