ABSTRACT Recently there have been a number of studies published which seek to further our understanding of the competitive structures of markets. These studies have used aggregated perceptual data in an attempt to uncover industry‐level mental models of business environments. In this article we argue that such studies are predicated on the assumption that there are high levels of consensus within and between organizations in a given industry concerning the bases of competition and the positioning of particular organizations. In the present study we employ a similar methodology but focus on the mental models of individuals in order to examine empirically the nature and extent of such consensus. the research was carried out in the UK grocery retailing industry. Twenty‐three managers from two organizations were each interviewed using a variant of the cognitive taxonomic interview procedures devised by Porac and his associates. the study revealed considerable variation in terms of the nature of the cognitive categories elicited from the participants and the overall complexity of their taxonomies relating to competitive structures, both within and between the organizations. However, the study also revealed considerable intra‐organizational agreement regarding the categories which describe the self‐identity of the research participants’organizations and their major competitors. We consider the implications of these findings for understanding processes of strategy development and implementation in organizations.
Journal of Management Studies – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1994
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