Original Research

Experiences of emergent change from an applied neurosciences perspective

Gabriella Garnett, Johanna M. Venter, Diederik J. Geldenhuys
Journal of Applied Neurosciences | Vol 1, No 1 | a2 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jan.v1i1.2 | © 2022 Gabriella Garnett, Johanna M. Venter, Diederik J. Geldenhuys | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 May 2022 | Published: 04 August 2022

About the author(s)

Gabriella Garnett, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Johanna M. Venter, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Diederik J. Geldenhuys, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Traditional models of planned change are no longer sufficient, amidst constantly changing contexts. Applied neurosciences provides a unique, integrated perspective on human functioning. This study employed a neuroscientific perspective to explore participants’ experiences of the neurobiological impact of emergent change.

Research purpose: This study explored participants’ experiences of emergent change from an applied neurosciences perspective.

Motivation for the study: The impact of emergent change on employees has been underestimated and under-represented in both the literature and practice. Exploring the original voices of employees, as well as the underlying neural mechanisms and their dynamic interactions that shape these experiences, offers new insights into this complex phenomenon.

Research approach/design and method: Nine client-facing employees from a software development company in South Africa, selected through purposive sampling, participated in an interactive qualitative analysis (IQA) focus group and follow-up interviews. Data were collected and analysed by the participants, in keeping with the IQA protocol.

Main findings: Experiences of emergent change were found to threaten individuals’ and teams’ basic psychological needs, with a significant impact on the physiological, emotional and interpersonal levels. The participants’ experiences reflected a dysregulation in mental operating network activation, in response to their compromised needs.

Implications for practice: The findings imply the need for interventions to enhance employees’ resilience during emergent change by developing the internal stability and external adaptability of their mental operating networks. This aligns with developments related to well-being in the neuroscience literature.

Contribution/value add: The study provides an insight into individuals’ and teams’ experiences of emergent change, which can be used to inform new approaches for research-informed interventions and practices aligned with applied neurosciences.


Keywords

applied neurosciences; basic psychological needs; emergent change; interpersonal neurobiology; mental operating networks; organisational psychology

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