Session 182

Cognitive Processs under Uncertainty

Track C

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Time: 10:00 – 11:15


Room: Meeting Room 11

Session Chair:
Rodolphe Durand, HEC-Paris

Title: Cognitive Dynamics and Value Creation: Recognizing the Sequencing Trap


  • Anjali Bakhru, Imperial College Business School
  • Abhijit Mandal, City University

Abstract: Should management pursue a balance in managing the trade-offs in value creation within the context of uncertainty? Our aim is to address the role of cognitive processes in influencing strategic choice through different modes of value-creation such as exploration and exploitation. We highlight the importance of sequencing in the context of the cognition-action-performance cycle, drawing specifically upon the need for both cognitive analysis and cognitive formulation. We show that the criticality of sequencing explains the prevalence of management trade-offs - and yet it diminishes their utility, constraining the potential for value creation.

Title: Leadership Strategies for an Uncertain World: Is Complexity Leadership Real? Is it Practicable?


  • Jacqueline Fendt, ESCP Europe
  • Renata Kaminska-Labbe, CERAM Business School Nice-Sophia Antipolis

Abstract: Inspired by complexity science, McKelvey and other scholars suggest Complexity Leadership, a different paradigm that frames leadership as a complex interactive dynamic, characterized by emergence and self-organization, from which arise such adaptive outcomes as learning, dealing with surprise, and innovation. We aim to confront this fairly recent construct with rich empirical data of 40 in-depth, narrative interviews of European Corporate CEOs, on leadership and learning behavior in situations of extreme complexity, recently gathered for a longitudinal study on strategic leadership and cognition in extreme situations. We lay down theoretical notions of coevolutionary dynamics, of complexity science and of complexity leadership. We then introduce in some detail our empirical material, propose and explain our research design and report on first results.

Title: Rethinking Strategic Consensus Theory: Embracing Uncertainty Calls for Both Agreement and Disagreement


  • Page West, Wake Forest University

Abstract: Strategy consensus research fails to account for three facets of the consensus-performance relationship: why consensus should invariably lead to superior performance; the need for top managers to agree on direction but also to challenge that direction; and the need to simultaneously measure how multiple individuals agree and disagree on multiple initiatives. These three facets prompt reconsideration of consensus theory and the methodologies to examine it. The present paper outlines foundations for the concept and measurement of consensus in social systems, and applies these ideas to top management teams. The ability of top managers to both differentiate and integrate among multiple strategic options enables firms to navigate complexity and achieve superior performance. We find empirical support for these ideas using a sample of technology-based firms.

Title: Strategic Opportunity or Trap: Can Corporate Political Activities (De)-Escalate Commitments


  • Jan Siedentopp, Free University of Berlin
  • Christian Goeke, Free University of Berlin
  • Martin Gersch, Free University of Berlin

Abstract: We investigate the question if corporate political activities (CPA) as part of firms’ non-market strategies can help deescalate commitments or if the contrary is the case. We question if the use of CPA is a strategic opportunity positively correlated to success in the market or rather a strategic trap. Using a mixed method design with a case study analysis in the German healthcare sector and a cross-sectoral quantitative analysis, we found that the answer is twofold: CPA can be a good means to support market strategies and long term market success. However, firms tend to invest too many resources in their non-market strategy side. As a consequence firms loose focus on their competitive market strategies side, e.g. customer satisfaction.

All Sessions in Track C...

Mon: 12:45 – 14:00
Session 173: Proactive Strategies to Manage an Uncertain World
Session 181: Sustaining Innovation
Mon: 15:45 – 17:00
Session 174: The Effect of Environmental Conditions on Organizational Reconfiguration
Session 183: Managing Collective Emotions under Strategic Uncertainty
Mon: 17:15 – 18:30
Session 175: The Influence of Uncertainty on Investment Behaviour of Firms
Session 185: New Forms and Governance Modes for Coping with Uncertainty
Tue: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 176: The Influence of External Uncertainty on Capability Development
Tue: 11:30 – 12:45
Session 177: How to Make the Right Decisions During Uncertain Times?
Tue: 14:30 – 15:45
Session 178: Does the Past Predict Future Exploratory or Exploitative Innovative Behaviour?
Wed: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 179: Environmental Dynamism and Firm Behavior
Session 182: Cognitive Processs under Uncertainty
Wed: 11:30 – 12:45
Session 180: The Dynamics of Top Management Team in Achieving Long Term Performance
Session 184: Value Creation Under Uncertainty

Strategic Management Society

Washington DC