COVID-19 has forced people, in all walks of life, to face difficult decisions. Restaurant owners had to decide if they should offer in-house dining to keep their business alive, but potentially at the expense of the health and welfare of their employees, their customers, and themselves. Lawmakers needed to decide if they should institute mandates that could have detrimental consequences for economic prosperity but could also save lives. Research suggests that how these decisions are made has as much to do with the mentality of the decision-maker as the facts at hand.
Such decisions are difficult. There are tradeoffs, pros and cons that the decision-maker needs to consider, and the ultimate decision likely depends on what they prioritize. My colleagues and I have explored how these management decisions are made and have discovered that a certain mindset exists among business leaders that can result in calamitous decisions. We refer to this mindset as “bottom-line mentality” — one-dimensional thinking that revolves around securing bottom-line outcomes to the neglect of competing priorities.
We initially began this research and defined “bottom-line mentality” based on our observations that there seemed to be a tendency, especially here in the United States, to prioritize bottom-line outcomes, such as profits and financial success, above all else.
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