Scholarly Critique on Emotional Intelligence and Participation in Decision-Making Strategies for Promoting Organizational Learning and Change

I am currently working my way through my third semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This post is the sixth within a series of 12 scholarly critiques that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Research in ILT.

My academic partner Jason and I are researching how emotional intelligence relates to group learning within organizations.  With that in mind, a search on ResearchGate, using the phrase “emotional intelligence organizational learning.”  brought up an article from 2004 titled Emotional Intelligence and Participation in Decision-Making Strategies for Promoting Organizational Learning and Change by Dr. Brenda Scott-Ladd, lecturer in management at Murdoch University in Australia, and Dr. Christopher C.A. Chan, currently an associate professor at the School of Human Resource Management at York University in Canada.

ResearchGate Image

The authors of this paper begin by conducting an extensive literature review on emotional intelligence (henceforth “EI”), organizational learning, and participation in decision-making (henceforth “PDM”).  The main goal for the review was to attempt to synthesize how these three concepts could combine to facilitate an organization’s response to change (Scott-Ladd and Chan, 2004, p. 102).  They state in the introduction, “Although these three notions seem to synthesize individuals’ emotional capacity to empathize and effectively manage the learning process to the organization’s benefit, we could find no evidence of attempts to integrate analysis of their benefits in the extant literature” (p. 95).

Within the literature review, Scott-Ladd and Chan describe each concept in detail and discuss their findings within the literature.  To summarize:

  • Emotional intelligence is defined as an individual’s ability to accurately perceive reality so as to understand and regulate their own emotional responses as well as adapt and respond to others (Mayer and Salovey, 1997; Pelliteri, 2002).  Studies show that emotionally intelligent people are more self-aware regarding their strengths and limitations, and because of this they are claimed to be more confident, optimistic, flexible, innovative, and comfortable with new ideas (Bellack, 1999; Goleman,1995, 1998; Mayer and Salovey, 1997).
    Therefore, employees with high EI offer advantages to contemporary organizations wanting to gain competitive advantage through adaptability, rapid response, and change innovation (Scott-Ladd and Chan, 2004, p. 96).
  • Organizational learning is presented as a concept that facilitates organization-wide improvements and change adeptness (Finger and Woolis, 1994; Stata,1989) which enhances the competitive position through improvements in efficiency, productivity, and innovation (Solomon, 1994).
  • Participation in decision-making refers to the level of influence employees have in the process of decision-making (Cottonet al.,1988; Scullyet al., 1995).  Organizations implement PDM to benefit from the motivational effects of increased employee involvement, job satisfaction and organizational commitment (Daniels and Bailey, 1999; Latham et al., 1994; Pearson and Duffy, 1999; Witt et al., 2000).

Scott-Ladd and Chan synthesize their findings into strategies that promote positive change for organizations.  Their contention is that organizations that can promote emotional intelligence within the protection of participative decision- making frameworks will be the most
adept at organizational learning and change, thus enabling them to remain competitive and be successful.  The figure below shows their proposed model that explains the relationship between the three above-mentioned concepts.

Scott-Ladd and Chan model

Scott-Ladd and Chan’s paper directly relates to mine and Jason’s research inquiry in that we’re looking for ways in that EI relates to organizational learning and their model for maximizing organizational learning directly involves EI.  Their literature review and subsequent research provide us with evidence that emotional intelligence has an extremely positive relation to organizational learning, especially when employees participate in decision-making within the organization.

***For a more in-depth guide on emotional intelligence and emotional quotient (historical development, categories of emotional quotient, importance of emotional intelligence, and strategies to boosting your emotional intelligence), check out this absolutely fantastic piece written by Martin Luenendonk at Cleverism.

Header image from here.


Scott-Ladd, B., & Chan, C. C. A. (2004). Emotional intelligence and participation in decision-making: Strategies for promoting organizational learning and change. Strategic Change, 13(2), 95-105.

***For all sources cited in this critique, please view the article here.