Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. W. Glenn Rowe


The competitive dynamics literature has examined various characteristics of actions/response dyads (e.g., new product release, market entry, marketing campaigns) along with their antecedents and competitive outcomes. For the most part, the emphasis has been on objective and structural factors that influence the dynamics of competition. What is often overlooked is that organizations’ actions are a result of individual level perceptions and interpretations. To gain a more comprehensive understanding of competitive dynamics, I integrate micro and macro perspectives in the study of competition. By drawing from theories in managerial cognition, organizational attention, and behavioral strategy, I examine how mental structures of decision-makers can influence the way competitive moves by a rival are perceived, which in turn shapes the subsequent responses to those moves. The main mechanisms linking cognition to competitive decisions are rooted in the literature on organizational attention and the processes that explain how and why managers notice and act on some competitive moves and ignore others.

I develop and test hypotheses that link managerial regulatory focus, perception of identity, and external/internal orientation to the likelihood and speed of response to competitive actions. I also examine how the salience of a competitive action within the industry can moderate these relationships. The Awareness-Motivation-Capability framework in competitive dynamics is used as a theoretical bridge between cognition and the nature of response to competitive moves by rivals. Using data from one industry, I test the proposed relationships and discuss the implications for research and management practice. The results show that while perceptions regarding identity and external/internal orientation influence the likelihood of response, regulatory focus seems to have no effect. The salience of the competitive attack also influenced likelihood of response and positively moderated the relationship between external/internal orientation and the likelihood of response. None of the hypotheses related to the speed of response dependent variable were supported.