Cognitive Mechanisms of Organizational in the Conditions of
Sustainable Development
Tatiana V. Korsakova
and Michail N. Korsakov
Institute of Management in Economic and Social Systems, Southern Federal University, 22 Chekhov street, Taganrog,
Keywords: Sustainable Development, Cognitive Construct, Focus of Applicability, Zones of Successful Actions.
Abstract: Cognitive mechanisms in management, aimed at the sustainable development of the company in accordance
with modern economic trends are considered. The managerial position based on the personal cognitive
construct used in the zone of successful actions is presented. The focuses of the applicability of the personal
cognitive construct are highlighted. Zones of successful actions such as Processes, Projects and Products are
considered a priority. Specific events of managerial reality for which the use of this construct would be most
useful are described. The need to consider the cognitive aspects of the formation of the corporate culture of
the organization is emphasized to ensure its development through the collective consciousness, the
identification of values, attributes and a common knowledge system, rules that determine the appropriate way
of the company to the sustainable development.
Enterprises and organizations as socio-economic
systems a priori have such a systemic property as
stability. At the same time, major changes in the
landscape of economic activity in recent years are
large since the nature of business is in rapid dynamics
and development. In these conditions of constant
acceleration of changes, companies are forced to
solve the tasks of sustainable development, that is
maintaining both the balance of the external
environment and their competitiveness.
In other words, the puzzle lies in the fact that it is
necessary to rely on the analysis of sustainability
trends, understood as the ability to adapt to the
changing conditions of the external and internal
environment of the company - on one hand, and on
the other, to rely on the existing “window of
opportunity» to select management decisions
(Kleiner, 2013). The ideas of professionalism and the
content of the manager’s activities are also changing
while his individual cognitive foundations draw the
meaning of specific actions. The accumulation of new
breakthrough technologies is changing
communication, production, and exchange processes
in all areas of activity. At the same time, managers'
notions of administration do not include the
systematic management of processes by which
knowledge is identified, accumulated, distributed,
and applied in the organization for its sustainable
development (Vinokurov, 2006). “The end of the
twentieth century showed that in the context of the
cultural transformation of society into informational
one, the knowledge management is not just a central
task but the main mode of activity both at the level of
an individual manager and at the organization level”
(Kudryavtseva, 2013).
The ability to perceive mentally and process
quickly external information becomes the main
characteristic of a modern manager in these
conditions. The cognitive approach to team
management, to problem-solving in joint activities,
shows the logic of modern management development
(Petrova, 2010). Therefore, there is a need to identify
the cognitive mechanisms of sustainable
Korsakova, T. and Korsakov, M.
Cognitive Mechanisms of Organizational in the Conditions of Sustainable Development.
DOI: 10.5220/0010587101230129
In Proceedings of the International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure (ISSDRI 2021), pages 123-129
ISBN: 978-989-758-519-7
2021 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
At the period of the end of the 19th-century -
beginning of the 20th-century representatives of
cognitive sciences, such as G. Morgan, S. Tietze, L.
Cohen, G. Musson, P. Senge, G. Hodgkinson, P.
Sparrow, R. Axelrod, and F. Roberts and others
developed concepts of the “image of the
organization”, the “language of organization”, the
“self-learning enterprise”, and the “competent
organization”. It was the penetration of the science of
management into the cognitive approach and to the
study of semi-structured situations. Reynolds, M.,
Petrova G.I., Stakhovskaya Yu. M., Nobre, F.S.,
Davenport T., Prusak L. considered this phenomenon
as an innovative strategy of an organization, as a
systematic approach to change management, as a
cognitive view of an unstable situation, as a
management of the company's knowledge.
Peter Drucker substantiated the concept of
“knowledge worker”, which was not equivalent to the
notion of “mental labour worker”. The knowledge
worker was identified through the direct operation
with knowledge, and this was an integral part of his
work. (Drucker, 2002). These views force to rethink
and describe the activities of managers, not as
individual members in the process, not as typical
representatives of certain professional communities,
but as builders and participants in activities located in
the internal space of the organization. Moreover,
ensuring the sustainable development of a company
becomes possible only by considering the social
relations and cognitive characteristics of people,
which allows acting concertedly, sharing values,
thereby providing the organization with opportunities
for survival and adaptation in an unstable
But the speed of action depends not only on the
speed of thinking of the person who makes decisions
on adjustments to individual programs and changes in
technological processes but also on the reaction of the
economic environment. This contradiction between
the actions of people to coordinate strategic decisions
and the reaction of partners, markets, distribution
channels, etc. gives rise to a strategic paradox
(Raynor, 2016). One of the aspects of this paradox is
highlighted at the development of the strategy that
does not remain only the setting of long-term goals in
modern conditions but becomes the answer to the
question of how the company will achieve its goals.
Thus, the main management principle of a modern
organization’s sustainable development is not so
much setting goals that the company must achieve in
each period but determining the zones of successful
actions and developing mechanisms for achieving an
advance in them. The cognitive construct understood
as a special classification and assessment template
from the point of view of achieving the parameters of
sustainable development is applied in the area of
successful actions and has a focus on applicability.
The focus of the construct's applicability covers those
specific events for which the use of this construct
would be most beneficial (Kelly, 2000).
The focus of applicability is “proactivity” and
understanding that in the 21st century every employee
is an engineer of his processes, a product or customer
relationship designer, and the head is not the one who
oversees but also who works as a “designer” - a
designer of a business system, of communication
politics, etc. Leaders who understand the meaning of
proactivity purposefully seek to hire people who
possess this property. The ability to be proactive, to
understand the proactivity is included in the
competency profile of such companies and is
reflected in the package of accompanying corporate
We use the methodology of cognitive constructs
not only to establish the focus of applicability but also
to determine the tools with which this methodology
will be able to substantiate the mechanisms of
sustainable development of the socio-economic
system in a new turbulent environment.
An important focus of the application of the
manager’s cognitive construct is the use of
prototyping philosophies:
The concept of Minimally Viable Product
(MVP) (Shestakov, 2016).
The concept of Design Thinking (Shilekhina,
The concept of HADI cycles (Deputatova,
These philosophies express the following
meanings: a proactive manager values time, the result
is important for him, he wants to be able to evaluate
whether he is moving in the right direction as soon as
possible and make the correction of the way.
Therefore, he works in short iterations where a result
appears quickly, albeit worked out with different
depths, but informative. If he is destined to make
mistakes it is better to make them as soon as possible,
while they are not much expensive. Cognitive
supports act as reference points when the manager
resolves the contradiction “differentiation -
integration” in the improvement of processes, team
building, product production.
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
As for processes, the constant striving for expedient
simplification, reduction in cost, acceleration, and
increase in their transparency leads to the adaptation
of the organizational structure, tools, and resources to
support sustainable development. In this model, there
is an opportunity for the regular audit of internal
procedures and subsystems, finding "bottlenecks",
duplicating and inappropriate operations, for
reflection not only on what needs to be done but also
on how to implement it. There is an understanding
that a high rate of change (growth, opening branches,
introducing new products to the market, introducing
new IT systems) must be supported by a high rate of
adaptation to changes, which ensures the sustainable
development of the company. The development of an
adaptation mechanism allows reaching process
maturity which, in turn, contributes to the
development of certain unique properties of the
organization, ensures survival in the external
environment, resistance to the negative consequences
of the emerging gaps between expectation and reality,
and even success in competition in the market
Table 1: Characteristics of processes for achieving
sustainable development.
Negotiate, commit
Habit Train performers and internal clients
Optimization Maintain high values for all metrics
As for the projects implemented in the company
the following markers of communications within
each of them become important for solving the
problem of sustainable development: prevalence;
multichannel; focus on the internal customer. And
here the focus of applicability is aimed at solving the
problems of building a complementary team, since
differentiation helps the company to be more
sensitive and discerning, develop innovative
thinking, and integration provides common goals and
expectations for the future.
Personnel management is also considered to be a
zone of successful actions, as it is associated with the
consciousness and knowledge of a person. The HR
department is still the “designer” of HR policy and
the “debugger” of HR tools, but the managers of all
functional services understand that most of their work
is to work with people. That is:
To provide effective and accurate hiring: full
participation in conducting interviews,
preparing, and analyzing a test task,
formulating correct feedback for a recruiter.
To ensure high-quality adaptation when the
leader does not only help the newcomer to
figure out his immediate work as quickly as
possible but also to establish productive social
ties; gives feedback that helps to develop;
corrects and interrupts the relationship "at an
early stage" if he sees any evidence to that.
To procure the work with subordinates
according to the modern concept “70-20-10”,
which assumes that an employee receives 10%
of his experience through attending courses,
and masterclasses, 20% - of “social training”,
i.e., of communication with colleagues, and
70% of his experience is gained directly in the
performance of work, provided that it is
meaningful and structured. It is the support of
subordinates so that they comprehend their
working experience, analyzing it, synthesizing
new models from it as effective as possible. All
this is considered the main work of the leader
in the 21st century.
Thus, from the point of view of the cognitive
approach, the effectiveness of leaders, solving the
problem of a company’s sustainable development, is
determined by the choice of applying their own
cognitive constructs that determine one's
competitiveness, high efficiency, and effectiveness.
They are:
The ability to remain proactive always, i.e., not
to stop in thepumping of work systems,
procedures, employees, even if the external
environment seems favorable.
The skill of efficient management, constant
striving for expedient simplification,
cheapening, acceleration, increasing
The ability to think in prototypes, to move by
steps ( by iterations), sketching a solution as a
sketch, receiving feedback, and adjusting,
saving time and resources due to such
The ability to build a complementary team of
people talented in different ways but sharing
common sustainable development values to
achieve common goals.
The understanding that the main task of each
leader is to work with staff: information,
training, involvement, coaching, providing
feedback, support in socialization, etc.
The understanding of the principles of
“composite management”, according to which
a strong organization must learn to combine
Cognitive Mechanisms of Organizational in the Conditions of Sustainable Development
spontaneity and coordination, performing
discipline and creativity, speed and
scrupulousness, transparency, and trust, etc.
(Korsakova, 2019).
Another area of application of the cognitive
construct is the corporate culture of any organization
- an important component of its holistic system, as
well as a condition for successful activity and
dynamic growth, which supports and provides
opportunities for increasing efficiency. The definition
of “corporate culture” has not changed too much over
the past thirty years. In the 1970-s it looked like "a set
of norms, values, beliefs, and patterns of behavior to
achieve the goals set for the organization" (Strakhov,
2015). In the 2000-s – it was as “a dynamic system of
rules including relationships, values, beliefs, norms,
and behavior” (Matsumoto, 2003). Most modern
researchers agree that corporate culture is more than
a set of elements or a set of rules (Abramova,
Kostenchuk, 2007). Culture is a unity of material and
mental (cognitive), individual and collective
consciousness (Odegov, 2012). Since there are no
organizations in which there is no culture, it is
necessary to solve the problems of the formation or
change the corporate culture by methods that consider
cognitive aspects, that include the processes of
perception, thinking, cognition, explanation, and
understanding, which, in fact, provide a cognitive
As the transition to an innovative economy is an
imperative of modern development, it must be stated
that knowledge becomes a key value of any business
entity and forms the prevailing organizational idea of
the values of corporate culture, as common directives,
and grounds for operational management (Spivak,
The formation of corporate culture is a complex
process that requires consciously coordinated
collective actions. All participants are involved in the
continuous creative process of generating the
subjective meanings of this process components
(Nonaka and Takeuchi, 2011). Cognitive approach to
the process of corporate culture formation and
development is due to the fact that the inconsistency
of the declared ideas and concepts with decisions
made in organizations brings the organization
significant harm (Myers, 2006). It manifests itself in
the divergence of personal beliefs of employees with
the adopted organizational rules, in the discrepancy of
the information received from the new situation, in
the contradictions of the formal and informal cultures,
in the replacement of the values of corporate culture
by its attributes. This does not allow making
corporate culture an effective, commercially viable
tool, but not an “expensive toy”.
A successful company should harmonize the
external and internal space of its employees and
ensure the integrity of its development in a variety of
actions in the unity of intellectual, emotional, social
experience. Corporate culture is one of the most
effective resources to solve this problem. In turn, the
emergence and development of cultural forms of
activity are determined by an adequate integrating
factor - the “foundation” of the company's social
space. To implement a system-cognitive approach to
the formation and change of the corporate culture of
an organization, it is necessary to consider its main
elements (Berkovskiy and Tronina, 2019).
Values are a system-forming element of the
corporate culture of organizations; they form a
complex world of meanings and symbols that
underlie individual or collective judgments and
actions. It is values that contribute to the stability of
the human world and organize targeted human
activities and are also criteria for evaluating any
cultural phenomenon. Thus, the value of knowledge
becomes a key element that affects employees, forms
a unity of views and actions, and helps to achieve the
goals of sustainable development (Thomsen, 2004).
At the stage of formalizing values, it is important to
understand that values cannot be “good” or “bad”,
and the worst that a company can do is to proclaim
the fake value “as it should,” but in fact not to reflect
it in daily work. The honest definition of values is the
“center” of the corporate culture. And the choice of
attributes of corporate culture - a variety of symbols,
ceremonies, myths, metaphorical stories, rituals, role
models - should also be consistent with the true values
of the organization.
The functioning of the organization as a complex
social phenomenon should be considered in the
context of the sustainable development of society.
The structure, dynamics and culture of modern
organizations, their interaction with the external
environment, as well as the interactions of
organizational structures, can and should change in
accordance with external realities and internal
strategic goals. The main thing is to maintain the
connection between the attributes of corporate culture
and its real values: if values are a declaration, then
rituals are an annoying burden. It is needed to attract
the right people and move away from casual people,
and thereby simplify communication between
employees, increase their comfort, and reduce staff
turnover. It is necessary to create a positive image of
the organization and broadcast it outside in order to
maintain continuity. It cannot be that there is not any
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
corporate culture, the only question is how formalized
it is and how synchronously formal and informal
flows are moving. Corporate culture, like all living
things, is described by a life cycle model (Tab. 2).
The main measure of the quantum of knowledge
and the degree of mastery at each corporate culture
stage is an increase in the level of the company's
competence. Precisely all activities are aimed at
managing the "knowledgeable" corporate culture.
With regard to the tasks and stages of managing the
corporate culture, the criteria for evaluating the
effectiveness of company management as a whole are
radically changing. They become, to a lesser extent,
evaluation of profit and, to a greater extent,
measuring the state of resources: intellectual capital;
investment activity; human resource development;
customer satisfaction; the completeness and
complexity of the use of information technology;
adaptability to a changing environment. It is
important to understand that there is not, and there
cannot be a uniform, standard approach to the
methods and processes of controlling the
knowledgeable corporate culture.
Any approach must consider the nature and
variety of the most important value - knowledge.
There is formalized and non-formalized knowledge,
explicit and implicit. There are many other
classifications by category of knowledge. In one case,
practical, theoretical, and strategic knowledge is
highlighted. In another, coded, familiar, scientific,
and another knowledge is distinguished.
Organizational development requires knowledge of
consumers, products, processes, technologies,
competitors, laws, finances, and so on. Knowledge
can be specific or general to a certain extent.
The perspective importance of the
"knowledgeable corporate culture" concept is
justified by the urgent need to search, preserve, and
stimulate talented people who could generate ideas
and bring them to life. If to summarize the
accumulated experience, the system of the
knowledgeable corporate culture includes such
elements as the identification of talents; attraction;
retention; organization of their use. Solving these
problems can be a huge strategic advantage. Modern
organizations are called upon to create a work
environment that is filled with creative
accomplishments and breakthroughs.
In the organizational space, where the creative
intentions of each participant are realized, the product
is the result "... containing knowledge ... for its
development and maintenance of life" (Raynor, et al,
2020). Christensen, K. M., Scott E., Roth E. Solving
the problem of innovation in Business: How to Create
a Growing Business and Successfully Maintain its
Growth, Alpina Publisher, 2020, 3rd ed., 290 pp.).
We highlight the following parameters for the
formation of a "knowledge" product:
“Gathering” of new knowledge when using
non-standard processes to obtain new
knowledge (identifying and resolving the
contradictions underlying the new world; using
intuitive ways to find solutions).
Management of existing knowledge
(transformation of explicit and implicit
knowledge of individual employees and the
dissemination of this changing knowledge
among all others.
The combination of offline and online learning
formats, which allows you to get the necessary
knowledge at a crucial moment.
Consolidation of the acquired knowledge into a
certain prototype of a product with sufficient
quality, testing, scaling.
A feature of a modern organization is
"incompleteness", openness of architecture for
possible restructuring in accordance with the
requirements of sustainable development.
Highlighting such areas of successful actions as
Processes, Projects, and Products, we proposed
certain tools that, in our opinion, form a focus of
applicability and help the company to be more
sensitive and discerning, develop innovative
thinking, integrate common goals and expectations
for the future.
At the same time, such systemic aspects as
awareness of the boundaries of each activity and their
identity, the nature of power and relations between
employees, communication between levels, the
distribution of powers, leadership style, etc. can
become sources of barriers for a company to achieve
a level of sustainable development:
Slowing down the pace in the implementation
of the quantitative goals of the organization due
to the temporary priority of the qualitative
Increased stress levels when dealing with
Difficulty developing skills for dealing with
Management turnover.
Difficulty choosing a communication channel.
Additional costs for training high-quality
Cognitive Mechanisms of Organizational in the Conditions of Sustainable Development
Expensive work with mistrust and sabotage of
It is given that the speed of change in the modern
world has reached unprecedented values, the lifestyle
of consumers has changed dramatically, companies
are forced to change their programs, production
elements, processes, and taken earlier decisions. And
it all takes the company a lot of time and energy. And
the lack of an instant reaction from the external
environment does not make it clear whether they are
moving in the right direction. A contradiction arises
between the accelerating changes in the external
environment and the company's strategy aimed at
sustainable development. In order to assess the
general state of the company, which has developed as
a result of the use of a cognitive construct in the zones
of successful actions, a certain "Influence Map" is
suggested. In the absence of quantitative
relationships between the factors describing the
situation, such a map can serve as a starting point for
matching a group view of the situation, followed by a
qualitative analysis of important influencing factors
(Tab. 2).
With the help of this map, one can imagine on
what segment of the path towards sustainable
development the company is and consider all the
barriers (negative signs of influence), the overcoming
of which will determine further development.
Table 2: Influence Map.
Success Zones Consequences of
nitive construct a
Processes Transparency +1
Habit +1
Internal customer satisfaction +1
Cost minimization +1
ace -1
Projects Culture of change +1
Increased stress level -1
The difficulty of skills for working with changes - 1
orate culture +1
Attractiveness +1
Business Goal Orientation +1
Balance +1
Management turnover -1
Communication +1
Prevalence +1
Multichannel +1
Internal customer orientation +1
Sufficiency +1
Channel selection com
Additional trainin
costs -1
Culture of chan
e +1
Gathering new knowledge +1
Lateral thinking +1
"External" knowled
e +1
anizational restructurin
e Mana
ement +1
Spiral Management +1
Fractional nutrition +1
Priorities of
- 1
ensive work with staff mistrust and sabota
e - 1
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
The sustainable development of the organization is a
holistic process the purpose of which is the
continuous improvement of its basic economic and
social indicators. The use of cognitive mechanisms is
due to the objective need to bring the social practice
to organizations with an established management
theory that has undergone global changes in modern
living conditions.
The methodological aspects of developing
cognitive mechanisms are still in the process of
formation. There is no clear conceptual framework
and specific implementation tools. However, the very
concept of a “focus of applicability” of cognitive
mechanisms has real prerequisites, and the need for
its development is obvious.
The managerial position based on the personal
cognitive construct is of particular importance when
it is used in the zone of successful actions. By
highlighting the applicability focuses of the personal
cognitive construct, the leader can ensure the
development of specific events of managerial reality
in the direction of increasing the stability of the
organization. Besides the cognitive mechanisms
allow creating the corporate culture of the
organization as a semantic system involving
employees by highlighting values and symbolic tools,
performing representative, directive, and emotional
functions that will contribute to sustainable
development in modern conditions.
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Cognitive Mechanisms of Organizational in the Conditions of Sustainable Development