Economics and management beyond rational decision making

The COVID-19 pandemic might be incorrectly framed as a classic example of a Black Swan that for many players in society came as a complete surprise (Platje, Harvey, Rayman-Bacchus 2020). Incorrectly, because a pandemic of this magnitude, though not COVID-19 specifically, was predicted as being waiting to happen (Taleb 2007). The apparent surprise reveals that available information on disasters-to-be is systematically ignored (Van Dam, Webbink 2020). The Black Swan of COVID-19 turned out to be the black elephant in the socio-economic room: impossible to miss, but everybody pretends it is not there (Will 2020).

One may or may not wonder whether this ability to ignore inconvenient information is a human deficit or a global socio-economic systematic deficit. One cannot deny that this tendency to ignore threatening information has repercussions for theory construction in economy and management. Classical and neoclassical economy are based on fully informed rational decision making. Behavioural economics has relaxed this assumption and is based on bounded rationality and incomplete information. Strategic management, as well as risk and business continuity management has rational decision making as its foundation. Neither economics nor management is prepared to handle intentional denial of information and nonrational decision making in its theories and models. This in itself may be a plausible explanation of why economics and management fail to get a grip on sustainable economic development.

Merely redefining ‘information’ as ‘external input that results in behavioural change’ reduces the issue to a meaningless tautology. Conversely discarding cognitive processes like needs and motives (Van Dam 1997) as explanation of economic behaviour implies that “human behaviour is less complex than most psychologists had hoped for” (Nuttin 1975: 216). Examples of non-rational and non-cognitive models are, e.g., behaviourism in psychology or cybernetics in management. Radical behaviourism has long rejected unobservable mental phenomena as explanans of behaviour (Skinner 1974) and cybernetics has offered managerial models that are based on observable behaviour only (Beer 2002). The application and acceptance of these models in economics (Lea 1978, 1981), marketing (Foxall 1986, 2001), and management (Cammaert 1984; Espinosa Porter 2011) has been limited.

We invite any kind of original contribution and/or reflection to the topic of non-rational and non-cognitive theory in economics and management, related to sustainable development, COVID-19 or human stupidity.

Possible topics are, but not limited to the following questions:

  • If the “purpose of a system is what it does” (Beer 2002), then what is the purpose of the incumbent economic systems?
  • Whether a more sustainable society requires a change of purpose or a change of system?
  • What is the economic rationality of misinformation and ‘denial of inconvenient truths’ ? Determinants of ignorance of warning signals of high-impact threats.
  • Non-cognitive models and voluntary or deterministic behaviour ?

Proposals for other issues and topics with regard to ignorance and decision making in pandemics are welcome.

Ynte K. Van Dam, Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands)
Markus Will, University of Applied Sciences Zittau/Görlitz. Germany
Joost Platje, WSB University in Wrocław, Poland

Please send the abstracts to: Joost Platje, E-mail:

15 March 2021Submission of Abstract
30 March 2021Notification of status invitation to submit full paper
30 May 2021Deadline for submission of full paper
June/September 2021Publication

The abstracts should have the following structure:

Aim: The author(s) should shortly explain the reason or motivation for taking up the research problem (why is the topic important?), and what is the objective or aim of the research. The aim should be clearly formulated, and be specific enough to be achieved within the range of the paper.

Design / Research methods: The authors should clearly explain the way in which the aim or objective is achieved. The main research methods as well as the approach to the research should be provided that enable effective dealing with the paper’s aim.

Conclusions / findings: What are the main results of the research? The authors should refer to the analysis, discussion or results of the paper in order to show the main findings.

Originality / value of the article: Within the context of the current state of the art in science, what is new or what is the scientific value added of the paper? For whom would the paper be of interest?

Implications of the research (if applicable): How and to what extent can the results of the research be applied to practice? What are the consequences of application of the findings of the research to practice?

Limitations of the research  (if applicable): Does the research imply directions or suggestions for future research? What are the limitations of the research methods used? What are the limitations of the implications of the research findings Keywords:


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The Central European Review of Economics and Management (CEREM) is an open-access scientific journal, focusing on state-of-the-art theoretical as well as empirical studies in the field of economics and management. It aims to create a platform for exchange of knowledge and ideas between research, business, governmental and other actors. Besides more traditional scientific papers, the journal welcomes conceptual papers, opinion papers and policy discussions from academic, corporate, governmental and civil society representatives.

An important aim of CEREM is to stimulate open-minded discussion of new ideas, new applications of old ideas as well as development of interdisciplinary approaches to current challenges in economics and management. This is of particular importance in the substantial changes that have taken place and are expected to take place in the world.

The principle of double-blind peer review applies. Contributions should be original and previously unpublished. Articles submitted to the Central European Review of Economics and Management should not be under consideration for publication elsewhere.


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