Session 202

Microfoundations of Knowledge and Learning

Track I

Date: Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Time: 10:00 – 11:15


Room: Meeting Room 12

Session Chair:
Petra Nylund, Universitat de Vic

Title: Cognitive Flexibility in Decision-Making: A Neurological Model of Learning and Change


  • Daniella Laureiro-Martínez, ETH Zurich
  • Stefano Brusoni, ETH Zurich
  • Maurizio Zollo, Bocconi University

Abstract: There has been a growing interest in the cognitive microfoundations of the internal capabilities that promote organizational learning, adaptation and eventually sustainable competitive advantage. In particular, the role of top managers’ decision-making processes is important for a complete theory of organizational adaptation and performance. We draw on recent experimental evidence in cognitive neurosciences to argue that the individuals’ cognitive flexibility might be a fundamental determinant of the organizational ability to learn and consequently to adapt to environmental changes. We develop a theoretical model where the findings from neurosciences are translated into testable propositions. Our main contention is that to explain the variation across firms’ abilities to adapt to the environment, it is necessary to take account of the degrees of cognitive flexibility in key decision-makers.

Title: Escaping From the Black-Box Metaphor: Strategic Decision Making in the Age of Neurosciences


  • Francesco Sacco, Insubria University

Abstract: Recent advances in neurosciences are producing a different vision of the brain linking its biological substrate to consciousness and thinking. Psychology is gradually turning its attention to neurosciences to explain the mind and its cognitive processes in biological terms. But in strategic management decision making is still a black box process and even if interest in knowledge creating processes is growing, the benefits of improvements from neurosciences and psychology is still lacking. The paper focus on the computational limits of the brain as a knowledge processing tool and, starting from the Edelman’s neural Darwinism model of brain at its biological level, it makes some hypothesis on improvements of the strategic decision making process based on the mechanism of brain functioning.

Title: The Micro-Foundations of the Knowledge-Based View of the Firm


  • Petra Nylund, Universitat de Vic

Abstract: The knowledge-based view of the firm treats knowledge on an aggregate, collective level. However, knowledge transfer ultimately depends on how individuals perceive, prioritize, and use knowledge. In an uncertain world, the firm must adapt through changing the actions of individuals. Through explicitly linking the individual and collective levels we can apply learnings from psychology and other disciplines to the salient questions regarding firm existence, structure, and strategy. In this paper, I review the literature of the knowledge-based view and identify the micro-foundations of each perspective. I map the relationships between these different views of the firm based on their micro-foundations and examine the micro-level connections linking the perspectives. The foundational individual-level constructs are motivation, cognition, interpretation, attention, memory, articulation, creativity, choice, roles, skills, and competences.

Title: The Psychological Foundations of Dynamic Capabilities as Adaptive Organizational Routines


  • Peter Bryant, IE Business School

Abstract: I develop a model of the micro-foundations of dynamic capabilities as adaptive behavioral routines. The model builds upon the Cognitive-Affective Personality System (CAPS) theory of personality, which contrasts with the standard trait approach to personality. The paper first proposes that routines evolve from repeated group-level behaviors that are triggered by features of situations and mediated by recurrent cognitive-affective processes. Next, I argue that specific classes of adaptive routines comprise dynamic capabilities. The model thus conceives of human personalities and organizations as complementary situation-behavior systems mediated by similar cognitive-affective processes, and conceives of routines and dynamic capabilities the social expression of such systems. I discuss the implications of this model for organizational learning and change, competitive strategy and the theory of the firm.

All Sessions in Track I...

Sun: 10:00 – 11:30
Session 264: Strategy in an Uncertain World: “Black Swan” Implications for K&I Scholars
Sun: 13:00 – 14:30
Session 265: The Changing Governance Landscape: Implications for Knowledge and Innovation Scholars
Sun: 15:00 – 16:30
Session 266: Integrating Theories of Problem Formation
Sun: 16:30 – 17:30
Session 313: Knowledge & Innovation, IG Meeting
Mon: 12:45 – 14:00
Session 201: 50th Anniversary of Penrose's (1959) The Theory of the Growth of the Firm
Session 212: Technological Innovation
Mon: 15:45 – 17:00
Session 218: Let the Knowledge Flow...
Session 223: Exploration and Novelty
Mon: 17:15 – 18:30
Session 209: Learning and Collaboration
Session 221: Innovation and Management Practice
Tue: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 202: Microfoundations of Knowledge and Learning
Session 235: Regulating the Market for Ideas: The Role of Communities, Norms, and Networks
Tue: 11:30 – 12:45
Session 203: Dynamic Capabilities
Session 224: Governing Knowledge
Tue: 14:30 – 15:45
Session 207: How Do Capabilities Develop?
Session 210: The Complex Roles of Experience
Wed: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 211: Knowledge Transfer
Session 215: Knowledge-Based Strategic Interaction
Wed: 11:30 – 12:45
Session 213: The Human Factor in Knowledge and Innovation
Session 219: Ambidexterity

Strategic Management Society

Washington DC