A Socio-Cognitive Basis for Strategic Groups: Cognitive Dissonance in Swine Genetics

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  • According to socio-cognitive models in organizational theory literature, managers share similar mental models or cognitive maps of the competitiveness of firms in an industry. Managers are increasingly challenged to understand rapidly changing market settings, where their competitive position is continually evolving as competitor initiatives and business dynamics interact complexly. In well managed firms, considerable resources are expended routinely to monitor competitor actions and customer requirements. Over time, this and other information is summarized within the perception of managers as cognitive maps of the rivalry network in which firm operates. More precisely, as Reger and Huff (1993) comment, that \"while cognitive simplification and cognitive elaboration could lead to totally idiosyncratic groupings, strategists who work in the same industry environment are expected to develop shared perceptions of the competitive environment over time.\" Cognitive maps are the result of individuals \"organizing, simplifying, and interpret[ing] the mass of stimuli that constantly confront them.\" According to personal construct theory, cognitive maps or constructs are defined \"in terms of similarities and differences and are organized into systems of meanings which individuals use to develop theories about the environment, to make predictions and guide action.\" Although the cognitive map concept has been explored from the manager's perspective, such marketplace perceptions undoubtedly are not limited to the managers in charge of product sales in the market. It seems logical to expect that customers have perceptions of marketplace rivalry. In addition, intermediaries often exist who provide services associated with the product in question, whose activities naturally lead to the development of competitiveness perceptions. However to date, socio-cognitive models in organizational theory have explored little about the differences in cognitive maps outside these management groups. Given a cognitive approach to the existence of strategic groups, the purpose of this study is the examination of the existence of differences between market participants or \"cognitive dissonance\" at a group level of analysis. More precisely, it involves the study of differences in cognitive maps of market performance (firms (swine genetic companies), intermediaries (veterinarians) and end consumers (farmer)) in the swine genetic firm value chain whereby the cognitive maps of each of these market participant groups refer to the beliefs or cognition of the competitiveness of swine genetic firms in the industry (i.e. firms' competitiveness). Since this study employs a cognitive approach, the notion of \"strategic groups\" is defined as a market participant group's perception of the competitiveness of firms in which firms that are perceived to be similar in certain competitive attributes (i.e. firm size, financial strength, price, consumer relations, and quality of products produced, such as sow productivity, health status of stock, consistency of product) are clustered together, while those that are not grouped with other more similar firms. As a result, the classification of individual perceptions of firms based on similarities and differences comprise one's perceived orientation of \"strategic groups.\" \"Strategic groups\" are in essence cognitive maps.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International