25 March, 2015


Speaking at Hult Dubai, Dr Vicki Culpin, Research Director at Ashridge says managers may be sleepwalking to disaster due to a lack of quality rest 
Dubai, 25 March, 2015: The Research Director at Ashridge Business School, Dr Vicki Culpin, today called on managers everywhere to consider the benefits of more sleep in order to reap the rewards of productivity while avoiding poor decision making and inefficiency.
During a keynote address given at a joint Middle East and North Africa summit between Hult International Business School and Ashridge Business School at Hult Dubai campus, Dr Culpin drew on Ashridge research that cited the examples of Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island and the Challenger Shuttle as global disasters caused by human error, in these cases as a direct consequence of sleepiness.
“While most people’s lack of sleep won’t result in cataclysmic loss of human life, inadequate rest can cause knock-on problems within your organisation. Only a reduction of 1.5 hours sleep for one night can lead to a 32 per cent decrease in daytime alertness”, says Dr Culpin. If a manager has a team of three members who are working with only that minor level of sleep deprivation, then the impact on performance is equivalent to one full-time individual.
She went on to say that it is both the quality and the quantity of sleep that impacts upon thinking and behaviour. Managers in particular are affected by reduced sleep, with 72% of managers in a recent study noting that they found it difficult to concentrate on tasks because of lack of sleep.
Not all behaviour is affected by poor sleep. Logical, deductive and critical reasoning, the types of skills and abilities measured in a traditional IQ test, are unimpaired, even after long periods of sleeplessness. However, leadership skills and competencies, known as ‘executive functions’ are highly susceptible to even relatively minor sleep loss.
Dr Culpin warns that executive performance degrades with tiredness and affects the key management skills of comprehension and coping with a rapidly changing environment, multi-tasking; producing innovative solutions to problems, as well as assessing risk and anticipating the range of consequences of an action, among others.
These important insights were revealed to an audience of 80 people from Hult International Business School and Ashridge Business School, who met at Hult Dubai for the first Middle East summit between the two business schools
Earlier this year a legal agreement was finalised for a strategic alliance between the two schools. The intention is to work towards merging operations to create the world’s most relevant full service business school. Efforts will be focused on expanding the schools’ combined undergraduate and graduate offerings including new online programmes as well as expanding Ashridge’s executive education to more clients around the world.