Integrating Cognition, Evolution, and Design: Extending Simonian Perspectives to Strategic Organization

Several streams of research in strategic management and organizational theory build upon the early work of Herbert Simon. Yet, as content analyses of articles published in leading management journals show, key ideas from his later years are for the most part either neglected or misinterpreted. We bring to strategic organization three constructs from Simon’s later work and make a case for their use in future research in strategic management and entrepreneurship: Docility is a fundamental behavioral assumption in lieu of opportunism or embedded networks of trust; Near-decomposability is an evolutionarily robust structural feature that permeates Nature’s designs and has implications for human artifacts; and, Artifacts are products of human design that reshape local environments and/or help select between them to create and achieve human purposes. Each of these constructs embodies a uniquely Simonian integration of evolution, cognition, and design. Together they enable us to conceptualize empirical phenomena as thick three-dimensional reality rather than as abstractions entailed by any one of these perspectives alone.

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Strategic Organization
Saras Sarasvathy
Mie Augier
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