Enhancing Mental Models, Analogical Transfer, and Performance in Strategic Decision Making
Michael Shayne Gary
UNSW Australia Business School
Robert E. Wood
Australian School of Business
UNSW Business School
May 12, 2009
MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4737-09
Strategic Management Journal, 33(11), 1229–1246. DOI: 10.1002/smj.1979
Recent research suggests that managers often make strategic decisions in novel situations by
utilizing past experiences to reason by analogy. However, there is substantial evidence that
decision makers often fail to identify and apply knowledge about one situation to a similarly
structured situation. Two experimental studies investigated the mechanisms impacting knowledge
transfer from one managerial situation (the source) to an analogous situation. The results show
that exposure to variation in the source situation improves transfer performance. Variation
decreases performance in the short term but improves learning and increases analogical transfer.
Higher performance on and systematic search of the source situation also increase transfer
performance. These results yield important implications for enhancing analogical transfer in
strategic decision making and for future research on reasoning by analogy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 39
Keywords: analogy, cognition, mental models, strategic decision making, experiment
Date posted: May 18, 2009
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