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The fuzziness of mindsets: Divergent conceptualizations and characterizations of mindset theory and praxis

Robert P. French II ( Eastern University , St. Davids, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 5 September 2016




The purpose of this paper is to explore conceptualizations of mindset across disciplines with particular attention to scholars’ care in defining and operationalizing the construct of mindset. Theories of mindset have witnessed increased attention through a variety of disciplines for their applicability as processes with the potential to influence individual and/or organizational outcomes. Exploration of mindset conceptualizations and characterizations reveal substantial divergences.


This conceptual paper generally examines the utilization of mindset constructs via a multidisciplinary review of literature and specifically details three mindset theories (implemental and deliberative, global and growth and fixed mindsets) to illuminate such disparities.


This paper categorizes the significant variations of the mindset construct and research via three distinct streams. Each stream highlights knowledge as instrumental in the mindset construct; however, the ways in which varying aspects of knowledge, knowledge mechanisms or knowledge as a component of an individuals and/or organization’s identity correspond to the inherent presuppositions of varying articulations of mindset theory and praxis.

Practical implications

Effectively influencing an individual and/or organization’s mindset necessitates an accurate assessment of the mindset construct. Further, evaluating the applicability of mindset research and/or feedback from a consultant warrants attention to the assumptions undergirding the mindset construct.


Generally, mindset studies and theories have scantly attended to both the historical development of mindset research as well as divergences in the research record within and across disciplines. This paper attempts to address this deficiency. Further, this paper appears to be the first attempt to compare and identify varying conceptualizations and characterizations of mindset theory and, therefore, identifies previously unidentified assumptions.



French II, R.P. (2016), "The fuzziness of mindsets: Divergent conceptualizations and characterizations of mindset theory and praxis", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 673-691.



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