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The Benefits of Using Eye-Tracking Methodology in Organizational Research

New research by SDU-professor Martin Meißner examines the use and potential of eye tracking in the field of organizational science. Together with Josua Oll (Hamburg University), Martin discusses how eye-tracking methodology can contribute to substantive domains of organizational science, such as strategic management and human resources.

Eye-tracking devices are frequently employed as a research tool in disciplines such as psychology and marketing to better understand, for instance, consumer behavior. However, the technology is still rarely used in organizational research. Thus, in an interdisciplinary research project, Martin and Josua address the question of how eye-tracking research can advance the field of organizational science.

What are the benefits of using eye tracking in organizational research?

Eye-tracking systems enable researchers to record participants’ eye movements and thereby to investigate the underlying cognitive processes during behavioral processes. Researchers predominantly track eye movements to approximate humans’ attention that is directed to stimuli. Yet, eye-tracking measures also provide insights into further psychological constructs, such as arousal or cognitive load.

In the context of strategic management, eye tracking could, for instance, be used to investigate how investors direct their attention to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as well as standard financial information when making investment decisions. In the domain of human resources, eye tracking could shed light on 1) factors that bias an interviewer’s assessment of applicant quality or 2) how visual attention directed to stimuli (e.g. facial stigma) affects memory of interview facts and applicant ratings.

SDU-Professor Martin Meißner hopes their research can inspire others to use eye tracking in their research projects:

"Our research serves as a knowledge brokering paper that reviews and synthesizes past research and provides future avenues for the application of eye tracking in organizational research. We therefore hope that our work will stimulate the organizational reader’s imagination and motivation for using eye tracking and thereby contribute to the method’s future dissemination and to the advancement of organizational science alike."

What events led to this research project?

The motivation for pursuing this research project was based on the observation that eye tracking is still rarely used in the field of organizational research. Professor Martin Meißner argues that self-report methods are still widely used by organizational scholars, although their limitations are well-documented.

"The lack of eye tracking studies in organizational research is surprising as other disciplines have used eye tracking in areas of high relevance to organizational research, such as information search and decision-making, learning, training, and expertise."

The SDU-professor believes that the time has come to expand the methods used to collect behavioral data:

"Technological advances in recent years have greatly lowered the barriers for using eye tracking as a research tool in laboratory and field settings. Given that the costs for eye tracking equipment are on a steady decline and that data quality and ease of use have also improved considerably over the years, we argue that the time is right to expand the standard methodological tool kit of organizational scholars by bringing eye tracking to their minds and hands."

Read more

Do you want to know more about the research project? Read the full research article "The Promise of Eye-Tracking Methodology in Organizational Research: A Taxonomy, Review, and Future Avenues"

Meet the researcher

Martin Meißner is an associate professor of marketing and innovation at the Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics and adjunct senior lecturer at Monash University (Australia). His research focuses on understanding attention processes using eye tracking. He has published in journals such as the Journal of Marketing Research.

Find Martins SDU-profile here

Meet the researcher

Josua Oll is a PhD student and research associate at the Chair of Capital Markets and Management at the University of Hamburg. In the summer term 2017, he was a visiting scholar at the Markets, Organization and Behavior (MOB) Research Group of the University of Southern Denmark. He has published in journals such as Business & Society and Organization & Environment.

Editing was completed: 15.03.2019