Making Decisions for Small Business Growth: A Cognitive Style Approach
Aim: The aim of this study is to explore how novice entrepreneurial owner-managers process information when making business decisions and how this process is influenced by environmental factors. Prior work: There is very little research that examines how small business decisions for growth are made over time. More recent research in entrepreneurial decision-making has emphasised the need to take a temporal approach to capture the complexity and dynamics of the process. We take a cognitive style approach that acknowledges entrepreneurs process information differently, based on the conceptualisation of style as a complex construct with multiple dimensions. The cognitive style literature is diverse and prolific, but has shown that entrepreneurs use different cognitive styles depending on context and task in decision-making. Methodology/Approach: We use a case study design with a sample of three novice entrepreneurs, past the start-up stage in the manufacturing sector. We use a cognitive style lens for exploring and examining the phenomenon. Data was collected over a period of three and a half years. Analysis was conducted using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis and cognitive style assessments using the Cognitive Style Indicator (CoSI). Findings: Our findings suggest that styles are orthogonal and that entrepreneurs exhibit more than one style, demonstrating cognitive versatility. The findings also showed that stressful experiences and managing the internal resourcing of a growing business prompted an analytical style preference. Prior experience in the market was associated with a higher creative style. Originality/Value: The longitudinal mixed methods design is a novel approach in the cognitive style literature. Implications for policy and practice: Repeated assessment of style allows educators and trainers to track and discuss changes of style to real events, which can be used for learning and feedback to develop metacognitive thinking.
Citation : Evans, M. (2018) Making Decisions for Small Business Growth: A Cognitive Style Approach. Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference. University of Birmingham, 7-8 November, Barnsley: Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Research Institute : Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)
Peer Reviewed : Yes