Session 214

Managerial Capabilities and the Microfoundations of Strategy

Track E

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Time: 11:30 – 12:45


Room: Meeting Room 4

Session Chair:
Margaret Peteraf, Dartmouth College

Title: Cognitive Capabilities and the Entrepreneurial Management Components of Dynamic Capabilities


  • Constance Helfat, Dartmouth College
  • Margaret Peteraf, Dartmouth College

Abstract: Capabilities play a central role in determining which firms are more successful than others. Although strategy research on capabilities has begun to incorporate managerial cognition, this literature has yet to focus specifically on the important role of mental activities, rather than mental representations. The concept of cognitive capability enables us to close this gap. Drawing on research in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, we analyze the ways in which the capacity to perform mental activities undergirds managerial capabilities, and through these capabilities, can influence organizational performance and strategic change. In order to provide a detailed example of how managerial cognitive capabilities affect strategic change and persistent heterogeneity of firm performance, we apply the concept of cognitive capability to Teece’s (2007) sensing-seizing-reconfiguring framework of dynamic capabilities.

Title: Corporate Strategy and the BTOF: Examining the Moderating Influence of Corporate Diversification


  • Gerry McNamara, Michigan State University
  • Federico Aime, Oklahoma State University
  • Kalin Kolev, Marquette University

Abstract: We examine managerial responses to performance shortfalls and slack resources under different current organizational strategies. We find that the level of corporate diversification moderates the relationship between attainment discrepancy and both R&D investments and corporate scope so that highly diversified firms are less responsive to performance shortfalls. We also find that the level of corporate diversification moderates the relationship between its slack resources and risk taking so that narrowly diversified firms emphasize changes in scope as a response to slack while highly diversified firms tend to invest in R&D within their current businesses. Our findings demonstrate that the current strategic position of the firm, measured as the degree of diversification in this study, has a strong influence on how it responds to behavioral pressures.

Title: Microfoundations of the Human Capital Resource: A Multilevel Model


  • Thomas P. Moliterno, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Robert Ployhart, University of South Carolina

Abstract: We propose a conceptual model that explores the “microfoundations” of the unit-level human capital resource, connecting micro (psychology, human resources, organizational behavior) and macro (strategy, economics) levels of analysis and theoretical traditions. Multilevel theory is used to guide and structure this theoretical integration. Our synthesis identifies a number of potential fallacies and shortcomings in how both micro and macro levels of analysis have conceptualized human capital. We argue that a multilevel model more fully captures the creation and application of the human capital resource, providing a framework that spans, and incorporates insights from, both levels of analysis. The model we propose develops the human capital construct beyond its current conceptual development, and prompts a variety of new research questions and directions.

Title: When Does Excess Human Capital Enhance Exploration?


  • Daniel Tzabbar, Drexel University
  • Terry Amburgey, University of Toronto
  • Alex Vestal, Oregon State University

Abstract: Prior research views human capital slack as a sticky resource negatively related to exploration, whereas data pertaining to 456 dedicated biotechnology firms between 1973 and 1999 suggests the relationship between slack human capital and exploration may be curvilinear. Building on firm capabilities literature, we show that a high degree of collaboration among scientists, technological breadth, and decentralized control in the top management team moderate this relationship, strengthening the positive effect at low levels of slack and weakening the negative effect of high levels of slack. The results offer an alternative view of the impact of slack human capital and a model that links the resource-based view to firm capabilities literature.

All Sessions in Track E...

Sun: 10:00 – 11:30
Session 256: Discipline Based Theories: What Do Theories of the Firm Say About Organizational Dynamics
Sun: 13:00 – 14:30
Session 257: Applying Theories: What Does Strategy & Organization Say About Health Care?
Sun: 15:00 – 16:30
Session 258: Integrating Theories of Problem Formation
Sun: 16:30 – 17:30
Session 309: Competitive Strategy, IG Meeting
Mon: 12:45 – 14:00
Session 159: Strategic Factor Markets: Antecedents, Consequences and Dynamics
Session 166: Competitive Strategy and the Business of Science
Mon: 15:45 – 17:00
Session 160: Emerging Strategies in Acquisition
Session 220: Contemporary Challenges to Organization Theory
Mon: 17:15 – 18:30
Session 157: Managerial Cognition and Dynamic Capabilities at the Crossroads: Current Issues and Novel Strands of Development
Session 222: Challenging Traditional Notions of Competitive Strategies and Competitive Advantage
Tue: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 161: Demand-based Approaches to Strategy: The Role of Customers and Communities
Session 163: Resources and Capabilities to Strengthen Alliance Formation and Execution
Tue: 11:30 – 12:45
Session 164: Competitive Strategy and Firm Performance
Session 165: Emerging Organizational Solutions for Exploration Strategies
Tue: 14:30 – 15:45
Session 158: Strategic Change and Dynamic Capabilities
Session 169: Unpacking Sources of Heterogeneity: Market Frictions, Firm Resources, Strategic Actions
Wed: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 216: Industry Evolution and Resource Architecture
Session 217: Designing Organizations to Sustain Performance
Wed: 11:30 – 12:45
Session 214: Managerial Capabilities and the Microfoundations of Strategy

Strategic Management Society

Washington DC