An extensive literature has accumulated during the past three quarters of a century on the topic of intuition in management. The beginnings of management intuition scholarship are to be found in Chester Barnard’s insightful speculations on the role and significance of logical and non-logical processes in managerial work. Barnard’s thinking impacted profoundly Herbert Simon’s foundational concept of bounded rationality, which shed much needed light on how managerial decision-making is accomplished in real-world settings by using intuition as well as analysis. In parallel, management researchers in common with scholars in a wide range of applied fields also drew on Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, and colleagues’ seminal behavioral decision research and its focus on the systematic errors and biases that accrue in managers’ intuitive judgments as the result of the use of heuristics (e.g., representativeness, availability, anchoring and adjustment, and affect heuristics). In recent years management researchers have drawn on further insights from Klein and colleagues’ work in naturalistic decision-making (NDM) (e.g., the “recognition primed decision-making model,” RPD) to conceptualize managerial work as expert performance and in understanding expert-versus-novice differences using the “skill acquisition model” (SAM). In recent years managerial intuition research has alighted on the dual-process theories of Epstein, Evans, Stanovich, and others as a conceptual foundation for further theorizing and research in terms of System 1 (also referred to as Type 1) and System 2 (Type 2) processing. More recently still, research in neurology (e.g., the “somatic marker hypothesis”) and social cognitive neuroscience (e.g., the specification of complementary “reflexive (X)” and “reflective (C)” systems) has mapped the physiological and neural correlates of intuitive processing and begun to inform not only intuition research but decision research more widely in management and organization studies. These various developments have shed light on how intuitive decision-making is accomplished in managerial work across diverse management subfields including entrepreneurship, business ethics, human resources, and strategic management. More recently, scholars are turning to paradox theory and process philosophy as alternative ways of viewing the phenomenon of intuition in organizations.
Bill Wooldridge and Birton Cowden
Scholarly interest in how managers make strategic decisions dates from the inception of the strategic management field and continues in the present. Although such decision-making was originally conceived as a completely rational, top-management process, contemporary thinking recognizes that strategies from across multiple organizational levels change within social and political contexts. Within this broad domain, multiple research streams address a wide variety of topics and issues. Prominent among these are, (1) the extent to which strategic decisions are formed through comprehensive analysis versus piecemeal decision-making, (2) how characteristics of top managers and the composition of top management teams affect strategic decision-making, (3) the role of politics, conflict, and consensus in strategy making, (4) how cognitive biases and heuristics influence the process, (5) when and how intuitive judgments can form the basis for effective decision-making, and (6) how managers at various organizational levels participate in the process. Research across these streams is both descriptive and normative, with a focus on contextual contingencies and relationships to firm performance. Taken as a whole this literature has significantly enhanced understanding of how strategies form within organizations. Contemporary work continues to provide new insights and demonstrates the continued value of this productive area of study.