Published: 31 October 2018

Spotlight on our distinguished new starter, Dr Sebastiano Massaro

We are very excited to welcome Dr. Sebastiano Massaro, our newly appointed Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) of Organizational Neuroscience at Surrey Business School (SBS). Sebastiano is the first scholar worldwide to hold an appointment in the emerging field of Organizational Neuroscience; he is affiliated to the People and Organisations Department and the Centre for Digital Economy.


Prior to his appointment at Surrey, he was the Academic Deputy Lead of the Global Research Priority in Behavioural Science and an Assistant Professor of Behavioural Science at the Warwick Business School.

Professor Massaro’s research is focused on mapping the scholarly boundaries of Organisational Neuroscience; he investigates the interplay between affect and cognition in various kinds of decision-making, such as moral, interpersonal, and strategic. Sebastiano has received several awards for his research and his work has appeared in world-leading journals across scientific fields.

His award-winning teaching is credited with the creation of the first known module in Organisational Neuroscience. His teaching has involved Game Theory, Strategy, Organisational Behaviour, Health Care Management, and Quantitative Methods across different levels of graduate and executive education.

The practitioner and consultancy work carried out by him concentrates on projects that use neuroscience and behavioural science to optimise work organisations and decision-making, placing particular interest on health care and other knowledge-intensive sectors.

At Surrey Business School, Professor Massaro plans to do this by bringing forward and applying real neuroscience into the workplace, through the use of cutting edge medical technologies. An example of this new approach would be to move away from relying on secondary data from e.g a manger’s wearable heart monitor, and instead monitoring signals in their actual heart muscle. By leveraging the digital expertise of SBS, around Big Data and the Internet of Things within the Centre for the Digital Economy (CoDE), Professor Massaro’s research will in theory provide the most accurate results in the field.

Professor Massaro’s connected approach is reflected in his plans for interdisciplinary work across the business school as well as the wider university including the University’s Engineering, Health Sciences, Economics and Psychology Schools and Departments.

We sat down with Professor Massaro to ask him a few questions about his plans here at Surrey Business School. 

  • What inspired you to begin paving a new path in using neuroscience to inform organisational behaviour?

A few years ago, some of my co-authors published a couple of pieces on the opportunities of using neuroscience in management research. Being trained as a neuroscientist, the overall message of Organizational Neuroscience was quite straightforward to me, however I realized that it was advancing a fundamental idea that at the time was not so obvious for management scholars yet. That is, if we are really seeking to understand human behaviour in organizations we have also to account for the neural underpinnings of such behaviour. The opportunity to take part and help to shape this new field, by converging my dual expertise, was thus a clear call on where to move my research forward.

  • What next step are you most excited about taking at Surrey Business School? 

Until recently I focused my Organizational Neuroscience works mostly at the theoretical and methodological levels. This is because performing neuroscience research is generally expensive and requires dedicated resources, but also because the management scholarly community has been quite relaxed in taking up more advanced empirical approaches. Thus, the first opportunity was to engage the community with somewhat more pedagogical works, to later dive into methodological complexities. Here at Surrey, there are several neuroscience resources and expertise available across Departments and Schools, and as the scholarship is rapidly growing into more refined empiricism, I look very much forward to keep developing my empirical research pipeline and advancing this field further.

  • Where do you hope to see Organizational Neuroscience going in 5 years’ time?

My hope is that in a few years’ time we will see an increasing number of good quality Organizational Neuroscience research published. Some that goes beyond rephrasing what we know already in either neuroscience or management and offers meaningful means to advance both theory and practice. The litmus test will be the response from organizations taking on board our research insights into practice and hopefully pushing us to reach even more nuanced understanding of behaviour in organizations.

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