Why and How Will a Group Act Autonomously to Make an Impact on the Development of Organizational Capabilities?

In this paper I report the findings of an inductive, interpretative case study of proactive and autonomous actions instigated by a group at a major pharmaceutical firm in order to accelerate and shape organizational capability at this firm. This two-year field research was seen as an ideal vehicle for investigating why a group within a firm proactively engages with a pattern of capability development, how such proactive engagement is conducted, and what these proactive activities are. I assert that autonomous action originates from intra-firm heterogeneity of group-level cognitive frames and social identities. The evidence suggests that a group with a particularly distinct perception of the strategic value of a capability will be more likely to initiate autonomous action with the aim of making an impact on capability development. The likelihood of autonomous action increases further if a group acts to strengthen the distinctiveness of its own identity by raising the perceived value of a capability that compares unfavourably with other firms’ capabilities. The field observations suggest that in circumstances of high inter-group dependency and limited group authority, the group attempts to make an impact on capability development by adopting creative and socially complex framing practices. The group formalizes a collective and cognitive search process in order to legitimize the preferred action and subtly sells the issue to higher authority without causing conflict, while still sustaining the group’s intent.

Journal or Publication:
Journal of Management Studies
Krsto Pandza
Year Published
Relevant Principles:
Download Attachment:
 PDF Download