Enhancing Mental Models, Analogical Transfer, and Performance in Strategic Decision Making

Strategic Management Journal, 33(11), 1229–1246. DOI: 10.1002/smj.1979

MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4737-09

39 Pages Posted: 18 May 2009 Last revised: 5 Sep 2015

Michael Shayne Gary

UNSW Business School

Robert E. Wood

Australian School of Business

Tracey Pillinger

UNSW Business School

Date Written: May 12, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: analogy, cognition, mental models, strategic decision making, experiment

Suggested Citation

Gary, Michael Shayne and Wood, Robert E. and Pillinger, Tracey, Enhancing Mental Models, Analogical Transfer, and Performance in Strategic Decision Making (May 12, 2009). Strategic Management Journal, 33(11), 1229–1246. DOI: 10.1002/smj.1979; MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4737-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1403491 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1403491

Michael Shayne Gary (Contact Author)

UNSW Business School ( email )

Management - Level 5 Building E12
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.business.unsw.edu.au/our-people/shaynegary

Robert E. Wood

Australian School of Business ( email )

Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Tracey Pillinger

UNSW Business School ( email )

Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

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