Experience maketh the mind? Top management teams’ experiential background and cognitive search for adaptive solutions

Jatinder S. Sidhu, Mariano L. M. Heyden, Henk W. Volberda, Frans A. J. Van Den Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The adaptive strategies of firms depend on executives' forward-looking cognitive search. We examine how cognitive search is affected by the formative experiences of the executives making up a firm's top management team (TMT). Drawing on research on adaptive search, cognition, and the upper echelons, we examine the extent to which educational level, diversity of functional expertise, and the length of industry tenure of TMT members will be associated with whether cognitive search centers more on proximal or on distal solutions. Analysis of 10 years of panel-data from US companies shows that whereas a TMT's educational level does not seem to affect cognitive search, diversity of functional expertise does so, as predicted, and industry tenure does so in a manner we had not fully anticipated. Additional analysis also shows that whether cognitive search is proximal or distal is associated with whether firms enter into related or unrelated new product-markets. The article discusses the implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-350
Number of pages18
JournalIndustrial and Corporate Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

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