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SBU business dean co-authors study on leadership and brain patterns

Apr 29, 2013 |
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — Neuroscience has revealed that leaders who can adapt best to complex and rapidly evolving situations have distinctive brain networks, according to a study published in the next Journal of Applied Psychology.

Pierre Balthazard, Ph.D.Dr. Pierre Balthazard, dean of St. Bonaventure University’s School of Business, is one of the paper’s co-authors.

Balthazard and colleagues from Wake Forest, Arizona State and the U.S. Army developed and tested the new model of leader complexity.

Findings showed that leaders who are more complex demonstrated greater adaptability when facing novel, ill-defined and changing leadership situations. Leader complexity was found to be enabled by both the mind — the complexity of leaders’ self-concepts — and the brain — the neuroscientific basis for complex leadership.

“Neuroscience can take us into the heretofore neglected ‘black box’ of leadership,” Balthazard said.

Neuroimaging based on quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG) showed that the brain networks in the frontal and prefrontal lobes of more complex leaders — areas of the brain associated with the self, executive and memory functions, and complex cognitive processes — are more differentiated in more complex leaders, the research discovered.

Further, individuals who have developed richer and more elaborate self-concepts as leaders were found to be more complex and adaptable. These findings have important implications for identifying and developing leaders who can lead effectively in today’s changing, dynamic, and often volatile organizational contexts.

“This study represents a fusion of the leadership and neuroscience fields, and this fusion can revolutionize approaches to assessing and developing leaders,” said Professor Sean Hannah, the Wilson Chair at the School of Business at Wake Forest and the paper’s lead author.

Professor David Waldman of Arizona State suggests that “once we have validated neurological profiles or norms for effective leadership, it may be possible to use neuro-feedback techniques, such as those that have already been used successfully with elite athletes, concert musicians and financial traders, to help develop better leaders.”

This paper is the latest in this research team’s collaboration to employ neuroscience to study effective leadership. The team previously published a 2012 paper in the Leadership Quarterly that identified unique brain functioning in leaders who are seen by their followers as being highly transformational, that is, leaders who are inspirational and charismatic.

The study will be the lead article in volume 98, no. 3 of the next issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, available May 10.


About the University: As a leading Catholic Franciscan University, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers. Our students are becoming extraordinary.


Effective managers are strong organizers, planners, problem-solvers and motivators who can help a business or organization compete and succeed.

Management is an ideal major for grooming the corporate generalist. It develops decision-makers who are well equipped with a broad knowledge of all areas of business including accounting, business information systems, finance, marketing and economics. Management majors pursue a curriculum that emphasizes courses in these core areas.

They may also choose an emphasis in behavioral management (motivation, conflict, group dynamics) or quantitative management (statistics, models, computer simulations).

Four concentrations are available to management majors:
  • Family Business
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Global Business Management
  • Human Resource Management
Each concentration requires a major to take 9 credits as management electives. (See Curriculum & Courses page.)

Students may also minor in management. (See Minors in Business.)

Careers in Management

Management majors are well-equipped for career opportunities in a variety of businesses and not-for-profit organizations, such as human resources management, organizational development, production and operations management, sales and retail management; and supervisory positions in many fields including manufacturing, education, government and non-profit entities.

Other job opportunities exist in the areas of international business, purchasing, urban planning, health care administration, and plant management.

Additionally, quantitative and computer-related courses provide a solid foundation for careers in system analysis, business information systems, marketing research, and materials management and planning.

Faculty Research & Honors

    Oct 16, 2017

    Dr. Carol Wittmeyer
    Associate Professor of Management, Management Department, School of Business
    Dr. Carol Wittmeyer was an invited speaker for the Albany Family Business Owners' Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce Schenectady Office. Her talk was titled "Planning for the Unexpected."

Management at SBU

Management majors learn a lot and are prepared for the real world.

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