He is Emeritus and professor of Behavioral Economics and Psychology at LUISS Guido Carli University, Rome, where he has served as Rector for ten years (October 2006 to October 2016). He has also served as Rector of University of Trento (from1996 to 2004) and was President of FBK – the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, serving from December 2010 to December 2014.
He has been Visiting Professor in some qualified Universities and research centers (Center for Research on Management at the Graduate Business School, University of California at Berkeley, , IIASA, (Laxenburg), Stanford University, Santa Fe Institute.
His main research interests are related to the study of bounded rational behaviour in organizations and institutions, as well as of organizational learning. Most of his papers released in the last decade concern, in particular, biases in decision making and problem solving. On these topics he has published around 100 papers, and got 3000 citations).
He is considered to be a distinctive voice in the academic and institutional frameworks; as such, he has often been involved in the debates on issues concerning university governance, relations between research and industry and the European policies for technology transfer and innovation.
Mental processes that facilitate or hinder discovery and creativity
We explore the creativity of individuals – in the limited definition of capacity to discover new strategies – in a context of card games . We have exposed two groups to different sequences of game configurations in such a way that each group could easily learn and become familiar with a different strategy. After this preliminary phase, all players were exposed to the same card configurations. A clear pattern then emerged, in which a consistent number of players remained locked into the familiar strategy even when inefficient; while only a part of them were able to get out from the cognitive trap. In both experiments player’s attention was artificially manipulated. In fact after the training phase the key cards of one strategy were familiar to the players, and therefore more accessible than the key cards of the alternative strategy. Thus the differential accessibility explains why a large number of players continued to use the familiar strategy even when inefficient: they simply did not pay attention to the key card of the unfamiliar strategy. In consequence, it could reasonably be expected that the effort taken to discover the second strategy varies in relation to the extent to which the first strategy governs the player’s attention. The ease with which the first strategy comes to the mind of a player can help or hinder the discovery of the second. We claim that two conflicting processes are active: one the one hand the automatization of one strategy reduces the mental load permitting the exploration of new alternatives; on the other hand, automatization implies high accessibility to the familiar strategy and this, in turn, leads the attention to the strategy’s key-cards. Both processes are not accessible to the subjects’ awareness. A recent confirmations in this respect, is due to Schuck et alii (2015). Through multivariate neuroimaging analyses (MPFC) they show that before the spontaneous change to an alternative strategy, the medial prefrontal cortex encoded information that was irrelevant for the current strategy but necessary for the new one. The balance between exploitation (of the old strategy) and exploration (of a new strategy), first highlighted by Jim March (1991), seems then to be at least partially out of the control of subjects’ deliberation.