Doctoral thesis: Mindfulness is a powerful tool in business

Doctoral thesis: Mindfulness is a powerful tool in business

Today the word mindfulness is so widely used, that the profundity of this practice is sometimes overlooked. In addition to far reaching well-being benefits, mindfulness can play an important role in both organizational and institutional change.

In her doctoral thesis “The Power of Awareness: Unlocking the Potential of Mindfulness in Organizations” Catarina Ahlvik conducted one of the most rigorous mindfulness interventions ever made in the organizational field. In this study, 130 managers in four organizations in Finland participated in an 8-week mindfulness training program.

Ahlvik’s research confirms that the benefits from mindfulness training that have been celebrated in clinical studies, also hold for managers in organisations. The study shows that mindfulness promotes well-being through decreasing stress and burnout as well as through increasing the ability to detach psychologically from work after working hours.

“These findings are essential and confirm why mindfulness has earned a permanent position in the well-being offerings of many organisations globally”, says Ahlvik.

The benefits from mindfulness also go beyond well-being. Another study she conducted in an R&D department of a large tech-company shows that mindfulness supports change-oriented behaviour in the form of opportunity recognition and pro-activity.

In her thesis, Ahlvik argues that mindfulness can function as a spark that help individuals become aware of taken-for-granted behavioural norms. She explains that it is confirming to these norms that help maintain institutions.

“If we pay attention to the surfacing of feelings such as shame, or thoughts such as; Should I? Can I? Is this ok? Is this appropriate? - then we know that we are hitting the boundary of an institutionalized way of acting. Mindfulness training develops intricate understanding of the subtle inner shifts and reactions, which forms an institutional awareness. When this awareness is present, we have the freedom to choose to conform or to work towards changing that institutionalized way of acting”, Ahlvik explains.

You can read the whole thesis here: https://helda.helsinki.fi/dhanken/handle/10227/255942

Catarina Ahlvik will defend her doctoral thesis on the subject on Thursday, August 22 at 12 pm. The field is Management and Organisation.
Venue: Assembly Hall, Hanken, Arkadiagatan 22, Helsinki
Opponent: Lasse Lychnell, Stockholm School of Economics
Custos: Professor Denise Salin, Hanken
More information:
Catarina Ahlvik
Phone: +358 40 3521507
E-mail: catarina.ahlvik@hanken.fi