Interview with Professor Kinga Könczey

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Management with Psychology is a very special combination of disciplines that only a few institutions offer, IBS is one of them. Professor Kinga Könczey, Programme Coordinator was our guest and talked about this very interesting undergraduate course.

What does psychology do with business?

Business management and Psychology are the two most popular degree programmes all around the world.  The Management with Psychology program provides a great mix of the two. There is indeed a close link between them: psychology teaches how people act and why they operate the way they do, how they communicate with one another, how they interact, how individuals think, how they make decisions, get motivated, or de-motivated. All these are extremely important from a business management point of view. Management is also about people, it teaches how to deal with people, how to manage people effectively, the administration of business.

Can we say that it is about people’s behaviour and how we can use this knowledge of behaviour in business?  

Yes, and once you have this basic understanding of how people think, how they behave, there comes a second level; it becomes easier to manage people, to deal with them, to work with them. For marketers it becomes easier to understand how to persuade people if we know how consumer choices are made.

What is the importance of this combination of disciplines and what are the major fields where it can be applied?List a few things that students can do with this diploma.

In short: just about anything. This degree could lead to a wide range of career options. The nearest place in Europe besides IBS where you can study the Management with Psychology combination is Great Britain. It is highly recommended to anybody who wants to go to consulting, organization development, or HR management. Marketing, advertising are other options. If you understand how individuals are making their consumer decisions, how they can be persuaded to buy certain things or services and not to buy others, you can become a very effective marketing manager. Also, how to use advertisements in a way that you reach your purpose. You need to know what attracts consumers. You, as a business man need to understand the other side, understand the people whom you want to persuade. Why they buy, and the way they buy. All these help you to design the right advertisement, at the right place, at the right time. Hospitality industry needs the same knowledge and capacity, as well as the service sector, or media.  And then there is another reason also: Approximately 30% of all job categories have disappeared in the last 25 years. This is mostly because of the changing technology. But the same is going to happen in the future, and even faster.  What it means is that young graduates are likely to change jobs and even careers multiple times in their lives.  Having two areas of expertise and all the skills and competences that this degree program offers will pay dividends. 

Psychological factors seem to play an important part in social business or corporate responsibility, but still they are business.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an important issue. A business organization is doing certain things that are not directly producing profit or tangible benefit. But on a larger scale, eventually it will help them make profit on the long time. So, CSR is not totally altruistic. Charity will become part of their image, and it can become a marketing factor. There is another advantage: CSR can give a high level of motivation to individuals and attract them to work in or to give business to such organisations. 

Do emotions play an important part in decision making?

Emotions are important elements, but only one component of decision making. The standard view of rationality is economic rationality. Most people can say that I make  a rational decision if I buy this or that cheaper, for example. The brand is already connected to emotion, you buy the same thing, the same essence but the brand choice is emotional. Brand is connected to previous experiences, a good experience can be linked to a particular brand. This is not fully rational. At the same time, you would not say that it is irrational. There is a logic behind, I call it quasi rational. Emotions, past experiences, a lot of psychological factors could be behind a decision or a choice. We talk about these factors in consumer psychology.

What are your experiences so far?

We do not yet have a cohort of students that already completed this study programme, so I cannot really tell about the outcomes as yet. The first cohort in the Buckingham University system is in their final year now. In the first year they study psychology only as a general orientation option, but there is a wide variety of psychology specialisation courses from the second year, such as Psychology in Organisations, Consumer Psychology, Cross Cultural Psychology, Power and Leadership, etc. Students have very different motivations why they chose this specialization. Some of them knew exactly what they want to do: for example consulting or HR, others were unsure but saw the potential in this programme. Students must be aware that this program does not lead to a psychology degree, which has a very rigorous training. But with this specialisation they will understand the terminology of organisational psychology, they will be able to work as equal partners with decision makers, consultants, various specialists in negotiations and they will be generally good at dealing with people in various organisational settings.

What is your professional background? What did you study?

Originally I studied economics at the Budapest University of Economics (today Corvinus University). During my studies I got interested in the way people in organisation make decisions. Peoples’ preferences aren’t very stable or coherent, we are also quite bad at assessing risks and rewards. All this lead me to the concept of rationality. I began to notice that a lot of decisions do not seem rational and I started to question whether all these decisions could be considered “irrational.” I think the answer is no, they are not irrational. They are just following a different logic. Not a profit maximising logic based on cost benefit analysis, but some other logic based on emotions, past experiences, hunches, intuition, and the like. Back to your question: to see clearer, I decided to study psychology, enrolled to Eötvös Loránd University, and I got my psychology degree with an organisation psychology specialisation.  I have always operated in this “in-between” area. I consider myself more of a psychologist than an economist. I lived and taught in Melbourne, Australia where I did doctoral studies as well in the area of decision psychology.  I worked in France and in Copenhagen too, where I still keep going back to teach regularly.

BSc in Management with Psychology

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