Two wrongs can make a right

20 May 2004

Two wrongs can make a right

WORLD famous business psychology researcher, Professor Charlan Nemeth is coming to Aston University on Thursday 27 May to give the Leverhulme Trust Lecture.

The Leverhulme Trust is a funding body which gives UK Higher Education institutions the opportunity to receive visits from Leverhulme professors, highly distinguished scholars who are the best in their field worldwide.

The lecture, entitled "Authentic dissent as an agent of innovation in organisations" explores the theory that dissent (the act of making a disagreement of feeling or opinion known) in a company or organisation can have beneficial effects even when wrong, proving that, in some circumstances, two wrongs can make a right.

Charlan, Professor in the department of psychology, University of California, Berkeley, has researched the effect of dissent in companies and organisations for over 25 years. "While loyalty and commitment in a company has positive consequences for morale and productivity, it can be counter-productive in terms of innovation. We now have considerable evidence for the value of dissent, not because it is correct, but because it stimulates the kinds of thinking that leads to better and more creative solutions," she explains. "In this lecture, experimental and naturalistic evidence will be presented supporting the importance of independent views and discussed in the context of work on creative accomplishments as well as organizational cultures."

Professor Nemeth will stay at the university for two six week periods, where she will give a series of seminars and lectures, and extend her knowledge to staff and students.

The lecture, which begins at 5.30pm in the Warwick Lecture Theatre at Aston University, is open to everyone and offers invaluable information on business innovation and psychology, including organisational group decision making and collective information processing. It will also provide an excellent networking opportunity for business people and students in the West Midlands. A free buffet will follow.


Written by Babs Coombes. For further information please contact me on 0121 204 4549 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

Charlan Jeanne Nemeth
Charlan Jeanne Nemeth is a professor in the Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley. Her background includes a B.A. in mathematics from Washington University in St Louis and a PhD in psychology from Cornell University. Her faculty appointments include the University of Chicago, University of Virginia and University of British Columbia with visiting appointments in Bristol (England), Paris (France), Trento (Italy) and Mannheim (Germany). Her speciality is influence processes, creativity and small group decision making and her particular emphasis has been on the role of the outsider and of the value of dissenting viewpoints. Her work has been broadly applied, most notably during jury decision making and the managing of innovation in organisational settings. She was the first woman and first social scientist to speak at the Oregon Bar Association, her topic being jury decision making and has given invited addresses at Harvard, MIT, Cornell, Northwestern and Yale Business Schools on entrepreneurs, creativity and mechanisms for increasing innovation.

The Leverhulme Trust
The Leverhulme Trust was established by William Hesketh Lever, a Victorian businessman and entrepreneur.

The Trustees offer a limited number of Visiting Professorships each year to enable outstandingly distinguished academics from overseas universities to spend some time at UK universities. In special circumstances, the Trustees are prepared to consider candidates who do not hold a university post.

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