Al-Shaghroud, Maha and Ng, Wilson (2015) Collective sensing as a micro-foundation of dynamic managerial capability:A situated cognition approach to identifying strategic opportunities. In: BAM2015 Conference Proceedings. BAM.

We reflect and build on the behavioral insight of Gavetti (2012) in suggesting that the
strategic ability to sense superior, cognitively distant opportunities requires a “more expansive
conception of strategic agency” than is acknowledged by strategic behavioral perspectives.
Based on our research of four unrelated acquisitions made by a UK plastics manufacturer we
suggest how collective sensing among top management teams may form an important
capability for identifying distant strategic opportunities. In the acquisitions this capability
involved managerial action in convening ad hoc “get-togethers” among top team managers to
present and discuss possible opportunities for strategic acquisitions. In an informal, social
environment managers collectively sensed for acquisition opportunities by identifying and
assessing possible acquisitions from their personal networks and which were unknown to the
firm. Collective sensing took place in a socially situated, cognitive space in which top team
managers enacted roles that depended on their ad hoc response to presented opportunities and
not on their designated organizational roles. Several propositions are put forward on the
nature and contribution of collective sensing at the front end of strategic decision-making.

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