Successful managers and leaders need to effectively navigate their organizational worlds, from motivating customers and employees to managing diversity to preventing and resolving conflicts. Perspective-taking is a psychological process that is particularly relevant to each of these activities. The current review critically examines perspective-taking research conducted by both management scholars and social psychologists and specifies perspective-taking's antecedents, consequences, mechanisms, and moderators, as well as identifies theoretical and/or empirical shortfalls. Our summary of the current state of perspective-taking research offers three important contributions. First, we offer a new definition of perspective-taking: the active cognitive process of imagining the world from another's vantage point or imagining oneself in another's shoes to understand their visual viewpoint, thoughts, motivations, intentions, and/or emotions. Second, we highlight that although perspective-taking has many positive benefits for managers and leaders, it also carries with it the potential for perverse effects. Third, we argue that previous theoretical lenses to understand perspective-taking's goal are insufficient in light of all the available evidence. Instead, we offer a new theoretical proposition to capture the full range of perspective-taking's positive and negative effects: perspective-taking helps individuals effectively navigate a world filled with mixed-motive social interactions. Our mixed-motive model of perspective-taking not only captures the current findings but also offers new directions for future research.

G. Ku, C.S. Wang, and Adam Galinsky
Journal Article
Publication Date
Research on Organizational Behavior

Full Citation

Ku, G., C.S. Wang, and Adam Galinsky
. “The promise and perversity of perspective-taking in organizations.”
Research on Organizational Behavior
, (January 01, 2015):