Vedran Lešić is second year postgraduate researcher at the Leeds University Business School. He is a recipient of University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Research Scholarship and working within the Consumer Data Research Centre and the Centre for Decision Research . Previously he completed the Fulbright Predoctoral programme at the Department of Engineering and Public Policy department at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds graduate degrees in Psychology from the University of Zadar and in International Relations and Public Policy from Dubrovnik International University. Vedran’s research focuses on understanding consumers’ decision-making, behavior and perceptions of energy consumption in the residential sector. We talked with Vedran about his role at Dubrovnik Summer School.
1. Regarding your expertise in psychology, how do you contribute to this year’s topic of Dubrovnik Summer School, intellectual capital and business freedom?
Often in economic and business discussions, the human component is either left out or it is assumed that people will act rationally in order to achieve the highest utility for themselves. In order to be successful on the global market it is not enough to have the knowledge or experience from only one discipline or field. You are expected to have an interdisciplinary background as well as an adaptable and flexible nature of your reasoning. Through understanding how people actually make decisions and judgments we are unlocking the potential for real change in ourselves and in society today. With the behavioral perspective we are building a strong and critical know-how to address the obstacles we still have not overcome.
2. In your studies you focus on decision making. What is the best advice you can give young men and women on how to make the best decision when all options seem bad?
The best way to make a decision is to understand the decision making processes, gather relevant information and apply it to the given context. With knowledge about the relevant topic and sufficient time, people can be in a position to make well-informed decisions. People make various choices on a daily basis, from the small ones, to irrational and the ones which have significant impact on our future. The key for making a good decision is to understand how certain decision are made and to ensure that all the relevant information and sources are included before making the final judgment.
3. Also, do you have any general advice on how they can boost their motivation, since lack of motivation is what stops many young people from achieving their full potential?
Motivation comes from many different sources. It is salient to know where the source of motivation lies and what the future implications for any given goals are. Simplifying the process by creating smaller sub-goals, getting a meaningful reward for every achieved milestone and taking time to plan before we start, can create a significant difference to our level of motivation. It is quite hard to give just one recommendation for a motivation boost because each of us is motivated by different factors. I find that being aware of times when you performed really well and how you managed to accomplish your previous goals helps to motivate yourself to give even more in a similar situation.
4. In your workshop at DSS you talk about a very interesting topic, how to create business ideas based on irrational decisions. In a couple of short sentences, can you explain why you think irrationality can actually contribute to your everyday life and business, since irrationality is exactly what most people try to avoid when it comes to decision making?
In this workshop we will talk about how irrationality often supplants rational thought and that the reason for this is embedded in the very structure of our minds. We will cover most common decision-making traps and give real-world examples in the business environment. We will learn why Prospect theory deserved to win the Noble prize and how it changed our understanding of human decision making. This session should give participants insights on how to recognize these patterns and show that we can make better decisions in business, in matters of collective welfare, and in our everyday lives from drinking coffee to losing weight or buying a car.
5. Can you give us an example of a popular business that was based on an irrational idea?
The majority of successful companies, business and organizations today are using principals from behavioral decision making and behavioral economics to shape their products and services. Starting from simple menu creation for a restaurant, product display to retirement, insurances and other schemes. Through this workshop we will get into specific irrationalities and how business have turned them into profitable assets.
6. In conclusion, do you have any advice or experience you would like to share with students that will be attending this year’s DSS?
Since you have made this decision consciously and invested time and effort to apply for DSS, I would simply advise you to use this event as a great platform for your own personal inspiration and bonding time with your colleagues and lecturers. Having the opportunity to listen to lecturers covering contemporary topics on intellectual capital and business freedom might give you enough information and ideas about your own future plans. Also, having a network of colleagues and peers in the same field is a great source of knowledge and experience you might need in order to be competitive on today’s market.