Re-Biased Search: Managing Intuitive Preferences Over Time
36 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2016
Date Written: June 30, 2016
We study organizational search in the presence of intuitive biases. Drawing from work on the psychology of human decision making, we construe biases as unjustified preferences that arise due to automatic, spontaneous thinking. This property of decision making gives rise to a mechanism we label generative recurrence. Present this mechanism, unjustified preferences produce two opposing effects on organizational adaptation: they curb excessive experimentation but at the expense of knowledge accumulation. In the context of organizational search, these regularities allow behavioral treatments to strategically leverage the value of biases. Specifically, our results suggest that re-biasing (adopting the opposite bias) often dominates both de-biasing (eliminating the bias) as well as consistently unbiased search. Our paper provides evidence that managing rather than eliminating biases can be an effective instrument of behavioral strategy.
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