Nick’s research is generally located within the psychological tradition, containing aspects of the social, cognitive, and neuroscientific approaches. Within this broad context, the specific research areas he works in centre around the concept of relationships among people, individually and in groups. Nick’s primary area of research and contribution has focused on relationships within the sales force, but he is also involved in driving research forward within the emerging field of organizational cognitive neuroscience, and has a long standing interest in measurement theory and philosophy of science.
Sales Force Relationships: The sales force is a key driver of profit for the firm, generating substantial amounts of income and cost. Coupled with the nature of the sales function as a link between the firm and its customers, effective management of the function is thus of major benefit to salespeople, the firm, the value chain, and society as a whole. Nick’s work here explores the relationships and social environment of the sales force within the firm, and the consequences for salespeople’s behavior and psychological well-being. Results show that the social interactions between sales managers and salespeople play a key role in problem resolution and influencing the ethical behaviors, higher performance, and psychological well-being of their salespeople. It is emerging that this social role may be even more important than the technical role that sales managers play (e.g. feedback and decision-making). Studies related to this have been published in journals such as the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Business Ethics, European Journal of Marketing, and Industrial Marketing Management.
Organizational Cognitive Neuroscience: Applying cognitive neuroscientific theories and methods to organizational problems affords a new and powerful explanatory mechanism for human behavior in this context. It is towards this end that the Organizational Cognitive Neuroscience Centre was created. Work on defining an agenda for OCN research has appeared in the natural and social scientific literature (International Journal of Psychophysiology, American Journal of Bioethics, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Nature Preceedings; Journal of Consumer Behavior), and there are exciting new developments currently underway. Examples include testing genetic differences across leadership styles, and also developing a theory of thin-slice cognition within sales force interactions. However, much of the early work in this area has been theoretical, with a key objective to create a coherent agenda for research in this area, avoiding the pitfalls plaguing so much research which has tried to integrate brain science and marketing/organizational issues so far. Key papers on this subject appear in Organization Science and the Journal of Management.
Measurement and Philosophy of Science: The link between fundamental philosophy of science concepts such as reality, knowledge, or measurement, and applied business research is vital but poorly understood by most practicing researchers. Doing Business Research (Sage) aims to demystify these concepts and show how good research depends on understanding the relationship between epistemology, ontology, and methodology, while recent explorations of the relationship between theoretical concepts and observable data, re-evaluates the use of classical techniques (published in European Journal of Marketing) and explores the use of new methods of measurement (published in Journal of Business Research).