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Renewing research on problemistic search - A review and research agenda


Posen, Hart; Keil, Thomas; Kim, Sangyun; Meissner, Felix (2018). Renewing research on problemistic search - A review and research agenda. Academy of Management Annals, 12(1):208-251.

Abstract

Problemistic search theory, with its roots in the Carnegie School tradition, describes a behaviorally plausible process by which firms learn from performance feedback. A firm’s recognition of performance below aspirations leads to search for a solution to the problem, resulting in change intended to restore performance to the aspired level. The concept of problemistic search has diffused broadly in the management literature—it is a central theoretical concept in a broad variety of organizational theories and an important explanation of a wide variety of organizational behaviors and outcomes. We review the literature and argue that the development of the theory has not kept pace with the breadth of the unfolding literature. We identify six critical issues with extant research that can be traced back to a continued (over)reliance on the initial conceptualization of problemistic search. To address these issues and to revitalize research, we propose a research agenda premised on a more central role for cognition in the theory and the need for greater emphasis on a process perspective of problemistic search.

Abstract

Problemistic search theory, with its roots in the Carnegie School tradition, describes a behaviorally plausible process by which firms learn from performance feedback. A firm’s recognition of performance below aspirations leads to search for a solution to the problem, resulting in change intended to restore performance to the aspired level. The concept of problemistic search has diffused broadly in the management literature—it is a central theoretical concept in a broad variety of organizational theories and an important explanation of a wide variety of organizational behaviors and outcomes. We review the literature and argue that the development of the theory has not kept pace with the breadth of the unfolding literature. We identify six critical issues with extant research that can be traced back to a continued (over)reliance on the initial conceptualization of problemistic search. To address these issues and to revitalize research, we propose a research agenda premised on a more central role for cognition in the theory and the need for greater emphasis on a process perspective of problemistic search.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:1 January 2018
Deposited On:22 Aug 2019 14:50
Last Modified:29 Sep 2019 05:59
Publisher:Academy of Management
ISSN:1941-6520
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5465/annals.2016.0018
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:15757

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