The Theory of “Flow’ and Its Relevance for Organizations

By: Zoltan Buzady and Paul Marer, March 2016
In: CEU Working Paper Series
Download full working paper here.

Abstract: The objective of this essay is to identify how leadership based on the principles of Flow theory, if applied, helps create a Flow-promoting work environment and leads to better organizational performance.
Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of Flow – globally known, appreciated, and applied in many fields, ranging from psychology to education, to sports – is explained and illustrated here in considerable detail. The essay shows how a value-based and Flow-promoting approach to dealing with colleagues and subordinates will enhance the effectiveness of management and leadership.
We take sides in the controversy on whether managers and leaders are of the same or different species. We try to persuade the reader that the sharp distinction that is often made between managers versus leaders is unnecessary and counterproductive.
The essay then focuses on those dramatic technological and demographic changes that are occurring all around us, in nearly all societies – changes that make the introduction of a value-based and Flow-promoting management, not a nice luxury but, increasingly, an essential tool for surviving or leapfrogging our business competitors – be they large, formal organizations or the mushrooming number of start-ups and SMEs.