Handbook of Research Methods on Intuition
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Handbook of Research Methods on Intuition

Edited by Marta Sinclair

How does one go about studying intuition – a complex, cross-disciplinary field, which is still developing? How can intuition be captured in situ? How can a researcher harness their own intuition? This book uses method-related themes to help answer these questions and explore innovative developments in intuition research.
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Chapter 16: Theorizing intuition in practice: developing grounded theory with elite business leaders

Martin Robson and Ray Cooksey


The experiential system, responsible for feelings and intuitions, evolved before the conscious functioning enabled by the rational system (Bastick, 1982; Epstein, 1998). Thus, intuition has been characterized as the ‘older and greater part of intelligence’ (Bastick, 1982: 77). Feeling is therefore primal and primary – the most fundamental and visceral human experience. It should not then be a surprise that organizations are often emotional arenas (Fineman, 1993, 2000; Mumby & Putnam, 1992) – ‘the very essence of . . . work concerns what people do with their feelings’ (Fineman, 1993: 9). Although one may strive for ‘professionalism’ at work, there are a range of possible non-rational drivers for behaviour. Indeed, some are sought after: enthusiasm and passion, even aggression, ambition and greed. Clearly, feelings count in organizations, whether we are aware of their influence or not – they influence behaviour and, in particular, decision making (Robson, 2011). Leaders in organizations are appointed for their ability to make good decisions based on complex and imperfect information. Research suggests that feelings are important in guiding this kind of decision making and leadership. Intuition use by managers and leaders in organizations has been mostly associated with the term ‘gut feeling’ – an immediate feeling of knowing based on experience and pattern recognition (Lank & Lank, 1995; Parikh et al., 1994; Sadler-Smith, 2008; Sadler-Smith & Sparrow, 2007).

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