Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The traditional view of strategic management suggests that the performance of the organization is dependent upon the fit between its strategy and the internal and external environment. However, this rational-analytic view neglects the critical question of how organizations learn about their environment and then act on the knowledge/understanding. This dissertation develops a sociocognitive model of strategic management which is rooted in an organization learning paradigm. The sociocognitive model acts as a framework for identifying points of leverage to improve an organization's collective interpretation of the environment.;It is hypothesized that the ability to interpret complex, dynamic domains is likely to reside in a group of individuals with a high potential level of interpretation; that is, a group with diverse and complex schemas. Integration is, however, key to exploiting cognitive diversity within a group. Based on the level of potential interpretation and the degree of integration achieved by a group, four types of organization schema are proposed: Impoverished (low interpretation and integration), Contentious (high interpretation, low integration), Groupthink (low interpretation, high integration), and Productive (high interpretation and integration).;The model was applied to a debate in the strategic management literature: whether consensus on goals and/or means leads to better performance. The cognitive perspective provides a different interpretation of consensus, suggesting that previous research has not distinguished among Impoverished, Groupthink and Productive schemas.;A total of 398 graduates and undergraduates, randomly assigned to 70 groups, participated in the week long Markstrat simulation. Cause maps were elicited from the respondents for the purpose of measuring schema complexity and view divergence.;The results of the study supported the importance of integration. As well, a high level of potential interpretation without integration (Contentious groups) was consistently associated with extremely poor performance, as expected. The results suggest that while Productive groups had a high level of performance, it was difficult for groups to integrate their high level of diversity and complexity. Moreover, failing to do so led to very poor performance, as found in the Contentious groups. Overall, the results provided strong support for the model and for the use of cause mapping techniques to measure cognitive diversity.



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