Managerial cognition as bases of innovation in organization

Lalit Manral (College of Business Administration, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma, USA)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Publication date: 26 April 2011



Why are some organizations more innovative than others? The purpose of this paper is to propose a comprehensive model of innovation to modify Kanter's model of innovation in organizations that rely solely on structural factors – to the exclusion of managerial characteristics – to explain differences in innovations across organizations.


The proposed model of innovation in organizations uses the cognitive attitudes of managers in an organization as the underlying explanation for the micro‐processes that result in innovation.


The study identifies some dimensions of managerial cognition that possibly influence the important tasks of innovation identified in Kanter's model.

Research limitations/implications

The model considers five dimensions of managerial mindset – cosmopolitanism, cognitive complexity, entrepreneurship, boundary spanning, and adaptability – as predictors of the different tasks in Kanter's model of innovation. This list is by no means exhaustive and hence there could be many other characteristics that could be included in the model. Testing the model could therefore lead to omitted variable bias.

Practical implications

This paper has huge practical implications for business firms that seek to embrace innovation to grow. Most organizations set up structural processes to foster innovation while ignoring the human dimensions that explain innovation. If the cognitive attitude of employees or citizens explains the level of innovation in an organization or society then organizations and societies can work on measures that will influence the cognitive attitudes of their employees and citizens, respectively.


This paper develops a multi‐dimensional construct termed as “managerial mindset” to provide a new perspective on the innovation process in an organization. The individual/manager in the organization is considered as the focal point for understanding the process of innovation as opposed to the structural features in Kanter's model.



Manral, L. (2011), "Managerial cognition as bases of innovation in organization", Management Research Review, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 576-594.

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