- Entrepreneurial Cognition
- Entrepreneurial Strategy
J. Robert (Rob) Mitchell, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Research Professor at Ivey in the Entrepreneurship group. He completed his doctoral studies in entrepreneurship and strategic management at the Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, Indiana. Before pursuing his Ph.D. at Indiana University, Professor Mitchell worked in a technology startup in Salt Lake City, Utah and was involved in emerging enterprise consulting in Victoria, British Columbia. Professor Mitchell's research interests bridge entrepreneurship and strategic management in that he studies how cognitive, environmental, and behavioural factors lead to the creation of new value in new and existing firms. Professor Mitchell is the recipient of the NFIB Best Dissertation Award from the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management. His research has been published in journals such as Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Journal of Business Venturing, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal and Strategic Management Journal.
- Creativity and Opportunity, HBA
- New Venture Creation, HBA & MBA
- Innovation Leadership, Ivey Executive Program
- Social Enterprise, HBA
- Executive Education
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Master of Business
- Bachelor of Integrated Studies
Recent Refereed Articles
Suddaby, R.; Israelsen, T.; Mitchell, J. R.; Lim, D. S. K., (Forthcoming), "Entrepreneurial Visions as Rhetorical History: A Diegetic Narrative Model of Stakeholder Enrollment", Academy Of Management Review Abstract: Research suggests that entrepreneurs persuade stakeholders to engage in risky projects in an uncertain future through visions, compelling narratives of the future. A unique challenge for entrepreneurs, however, is how entrepreneurs can construct a narrative that unites stakeholders with different perceptions of the degree of risk or uncertainty posed by the future. We address this question with a diegetic narrative model of stakeholder enrollment. Our primary argument is that to reduce variation in how potential stakeholders view the future, a story must embed a vision of the future in a coherent and collectively held narrative of the past. We introduce rhetorical history as the primary construct through which this occurs. We demonstrate how successful visions employ historical tropes at the intradiegetic level to appeal to individual perceptions of risk or uncertainty and how those historical tropes are combined into meta-narratives or myths drawn from the collective memory of a community to create broad, extradiegetic appeal to all stakeholders regardless of their temporal orientation. Finally we describe three categories of historical reasoning – teleological, presentism, and retro-futurism – that act as bridging mechanisms between past, present and future that provides stakeholders with an enhance sense of agency in the future.
Link(s) to publication:
- Mitchell, J. R.; Mitchell, R. K.; Hunt, R. A.; Townsend, D. M.; Lee, J. H., (Forthcoming), "Stakeholder engagement, knowledge problems and ethical dilemmas", Journal of Business Ethics
Cacciotti, G.; Hayton, J. C.; Mitchell, J. R.; Allen, D. G., (Forthcoming), "Entrepreneurial fear of failure: Scale development and validation", Journal of Business Venturing, September 35(5) Abstract: Fear of failure is an important part of the experience of entrepreneurship. Yet past research has mainly investigated fear of failure in entrepreneurship among non entrepreneurs or nascent entrepreneurs and has done so by asking for reactions to hypothetical future failure. This approach to operationalizing the construct limits our capacity for understanding how entrepreneurs actually experience fear of failure while practicing entrepreneurship. In this paper, we conceptualize entrepreneurial fear of failure as a negative affective reaction based in cognitive appraisals of the potential for failure in the uncertain and ambiguous context of entrepreneurship. We use multiple samples to develop and validate a multidimensional, formative measure to assess entrepreneurial fear of failure as a state that is both cognitive and affective in nature. In addition to evidence of the psychometric properties of the new scale across multiple studies, we present a nomological network analysis with respect to measures of theoretically derived psychological outcomes and perceived behavioral tendencies of entrepreneurial fear of failure. We then discuss the theoretical, methodological, and empirical implications of this new measure of entrepreneurial fear of failure with an eye towards use of this scale in future research.
Link(s) to publication:
Cacciotti, G.; Hayton, J. C.; Mitchell, J. R.; Giazitzoglu, A., 2016, "A reconceptualization of fear of failure in entrepreneurship", Journal of Business Venturing, May 31(3): 302 - 325. Abstract: Fear of failure both inhibits and motivates entrepreneurial behavior and therefore represents a rich opportunity for better understanding entrepreneurial motivation. Although considerable attention has been given to the study of fear of failure in entrepreneurship, scholars in this field have investigated this construct from distinct disciplinary perspectives. These perspectives use definitions and measures of fear of failure that are potentially in conflict and are characterized by a static approach, thereby limiting the validity of existing findings about the relationship between fear of failure and entrepreneurship. The purpose of this paper is to delineate more precisely the nature of fear of failure within the entrepreneurial setting. Using an exploratory and inductive qualitative research design, we frame this construct in terms of socially situated cognition by adopting an approach that captures a combination of cognition, affect and action as it relates to the challenging, uncertain, and risk-laden experience of entrepreneurship. In so doing, we provide a unified perspective of fear of failure in entrepreneurship in order to facilitate progress in understanding its impact on entrepreneurial action and outcomes.
Link(s) to publication:
Randolph-Seng, B.; Mitchell, R. K.; Vahidnia, H.; Mitchell, J. R.; Chen, S.; Statzer, J., 2015, "The microfoundations of entrepreneurial cognition research: Toward an integrative approach", Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, December 11(4): 207 - 335. Abstract: In this monograph, we adopt a microfoundations-type approach to understanding the present state of the field of entrepreneurial cognition research. The notion of microfoundations - which link micro concepts to macro concepts [Barney and Felin, 2013 - is increasingly being utilized to unbundle compound processes, and thereby to generate improved explanations in social science research. From its roots in psychology, we selectively review and trace the progress of the field of entrepreneurial cognition research over time, and we make a case for socially situated cognition as a new and useful framework in which the microfoundations of some of the emerging and more dynamic approaches to the study of entrepreneurs' thinking can be understood and organized. We also outline some productive directions for future entrepreneurial cognition research. We believe that the review of these earlier roots enables the reader to more fully appreciate how the development of social cognition research intertwines with other fields in influencing the current state of entrepreneurial cognition research.
Link(s) to publication:
Mitchell, J. R.; Shepherd, D. A., 2012, "Capability development and decision incongruence in strategic opportunity pursuit", Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, December 6(4): 355 - 381. Abstract: In strategic opportunity pursuit, decision incongruence (the gap between the decision-making rationale that an individual conveys to others and the rationale that informs hisher actual decisions) can lead to difficulties achieving the commitment necessary to grow a venture. To understand why some individuals have greater decision incongruence in strategic opportunity pursuit than others, we conducted a field experiment to test how a configuration of theoretically-based capability-building mechanismscodification, general human capital, and specific human capitalaffected 127 CEOs’ decision incongruence. The results indicate that codification decreases decision incongruence the most for CEOs with low general, but high specific human capital.
Link(s) to publication:
Mitchell, J. R.; Shepherd, D. A.; Sharfman, M. P., 2011, "Erratic Strategic Decisions: When and Why Managers Are Inconsistent in Strategic Decision Making", Strategic Management Journal, May 32(7): 683 - 704. Abstract: While decision makers in organizations frequently make good decisions, rooted in stable and consistent preferences, such consistency in outcomes is not always the case. In this study, we adopt a psychological perspective of judgment to investigate managers’ erratic strategic decisions, which we define as a manager’s inconsistent judgments that can shape the direction of the firm. In a study of 2048 decisions made by 64 CEOs of technology firms, we examined how both metacognitive experience and perceptions of the external environment (hostility and dynamism) could affect the extent to which managers make erratic strategic decisions. The results indicate that managers with greater metacognitive experience make less erratic strategic decisions. The results also indicate that in hostile environments managers make more erratic strategic decisions. But contrary to our expectations, in dynamic environments managers make less erratic strategic decisions. Similarly, hostility and dynamism interact in their effect on erratic strategic decisions in that the positive relationship between environmental hostility and erratic strategic decisions will be less positive for managers experiencing high environmental dynamism than those experiencing low environmental dynamism. These results have important implications for strategic decision making research.
Link(s) to publication:
Mitchell, J. R.; Shepherd, D. A., 2010, "To Thine Own Self Be True: Images of Self, Images of Opportunity, and Entrepreneurial Action", Journal of Business Venturing, January 25(1): 138 - 154. Abstract: While research in entrepreneurship continues to increase general understanding of the opportunity-recognition process, questions about its nature nonetheless persist. In this study, we seek to complement recent research that relates "the self' to the opportunity-recognition process by deepening understanding of the self vis-A-vis this process. We do this by drawing on the self-representation literature and the decision-making literature to introduce two distinct types of images of self: images of vulnerability and images of capability. In a study of 1936 decisions about hypothetical entrepreneurial opportunities made by 121 executives of technology firms, we then investigate how both types of images of self affect the images of opportunities that underlie opportunity recognition. Our results indicate that both images of self - vulnerability and capability - impact one's images of opportunity.
Mitchell, J. R.; Hart, T. A.; Valcea, S.; Townsend, D. M., 2009, "Becoming the Boss: Discretion and Post-Succession Success in Family Firms", Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, November 33(6): 1201 - 1218. Abstract: Family firms can enjoy substantial longevity. Ironically, however, they are often imperiled by the very process that is essential to this longevity. Using the concept of managerial discretion as a starting point, we use a human agency lens to introduce the construct of successor discretion as a factor that affects the family business succession process. While important in general, successor discretion is positioned as a particularly relevant factor for productively managing organizational renewal in family businesses. This study represents a foundation for future empirical research investigating the role of agency in entrepreneurial action in the family business context, which consequently can contribute to the larger research literature on succession and change.
Smith, J. B.; Mitchell, J. R.; Mitchell, R. K., 2009, "Entrepreneurial Scripts and the New Transaction Commitment Mindset: Extending the Expert Information Processing Theory Approach to Entrepreneurial Cognition Research", Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, July 33(4): 815 - 844. Abstract: In this study, we extend the expert information processing theory approach to entrepreneurial cognition research through an empirical exploration of the new transaction commitment mindset among business people in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Using analysis of covariance, multivariate analysis of variance, and hierarchical regression analysis of data from a cross-sectional sample of 417 respondents, our results provide a foundation for additional cross-level theory development, with related implications for increasing the practicality of expert information processing theory-based entrepreneurial cognition research. Specifically, this paper: (1) clarifies the nature of the relationship between entrepreneurial expert scripts and constructs that might represent an entrepreneurial mindset at the individual level of analysis (2) identifies analogous relationships at the economy level of analysis, where the structure found at the individual level informs an economy-level problem (3) presents a North American Free Trade Agreement-based illustration analysis to demonstrate the extent to which cognitive findings at the individual level can be used to explain economy-level phenomena and (4) extrapolates from our analysis some of the ways in which script-based comparisons across country or culture can inform the more general task of making information processing-based comparisons among entrepreneurs across other contexts.
Mitchell, R. K.; Mitchell, J. R.; Smith, J. B., 2008, "Inside Opportunity Formation: Enterprise Failure, Cognition, and the Creation of Opportunities", Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, September 2(3): 225 - 242. Abstract: To better understand opportunity creation, we investigate the extent to which recognition of failure impacts the new transaction commitment mindset of entrepreneurs. In a PLS model, we utilize data gathered from a sample of 220 entrepreneurs, and augment these results with an ANOVA analysis that provides a deeper exploration of the theory. In this article, we: (1) elaborate on the critical dimensions that represent a multi-construct view of the new transaction commitment mindset and describe ways that these dimensions can be measured (2) examine the extent to which the recognition of new venture failure impacts the new transaction commitment mindset and (3) explore the implications of the interaction between failure recognition and the new transaction commitment mindset for an entrepreneur's decision to continue or abandon opportunity creation efforts. Our results suggest that recognition of failure does indeed impact the new transaction commitment mindset and, by extension, can enable opportunity creation.
- Mitchell, R. K.; Bailey, A. D.; Mitchell, J. R., 2008, "Entrepreneurship, Thinking, and Economic Self-Reliance", ESR Review, March 10(1): 8 - 13.
Mitchell, J. R.; Friga, P.; Mitchell, R. K., 2005, "Untangling the Intuition Mess: Intuition as a Construct in Entrepreneurship Research", Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, November 29(6): 653 - 679. Abstract: Entrepreneurs often use intuition to explain their actions. But because entrepreneurial intuition is poorly defined in the research literature: the 'intuitive' is confused with the 'innate,' what is systematic is overlooked, and unexplained variance in entrepreneurial behavior remains high. Herein we: (1) bound and define the construct of entrepreneurial intuition within the distinctive domain of entrepreneurship research (2) apply a levels-of-consciousness logic and process dynamism approach to (3) organize definitions, antecedents, and consequences and (4) produce propositions that lead to a working definition of entrepreneurial intuition. Our analysis renders intuition more usable in entrepreneurship research, and more valuable in practice.
Honours & Awards
- 2011, National Federation of Independent Business Award for Excellence in Research on the General Topic of Entrepreneurship - Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (with Dean Shepherd) for the paper: Afraid of Opportunity: The Effects of Fear On Entrepreneurial Action.
- 2008, Stevens Institute of Technology Wesley J. Howe Best Paper Award - Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (with Mark Sharfman) for the paper: Adapting the Looking Glass: Factors Affecting Change in Entrepreneurs' Opportunity Images.
- Winner, 2007 National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Best Dissertation - Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management.
- Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, Ivey Business School, Western University (2014-2017)
- Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, Ivey Business School, Western University (2010-2014)
- Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, University of Oklahoma (2006-2010)
- Associate Instructor, Indiana University (2002-2006)
- Cognition and entrepreneurship
- Entrepreneurial decision making
- Opportunity creation
- Social entrepreneurship