What Do The Best Strategic Thinkers Do? A Case Study of Cognitive Elements in Strategic Thinking Among Managers at E.ON

University essay from Lunds universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: Strategic thinking is a popular topic in management journals, and many researchers have highlighted the importance of strategic thinking in managerial contexts. Still, there is a lack of consensus in the extant literature about what strategic thinking is, how it can be measured, and what are the cognitive elements that shape it. However, Prinsloo (2007) indicated that the Cognitive Process Profile (CPP) assessment can measure strategic thinking. In this direction, Sandelands & Singh (2017) present 15 core concepts relating strategic thinking. Although that the results of the CPP assessment offer a promising avenue for measurement of strategic thinking, little more research has so far been conducted to validate its results scientifically. The purpose of this case study is to investigate the most prominent cognitive elements of strategic thinking of managers in a department at E.ON. Our findings can provide a building block that enables researchers to understand what strategic thinking entails from practitioners’ perspective. This paper could also help to validate the CPP assessment as a practical tool practical measuring tool for measuring strategic thinking ability. This master’s thesis is based on a mixed method case study. The data is collected in three steps: 1) a self-completion voting questionnaire (voting questionnaire), 2) a 360-degree semi-structured telephone interview (360), and 3) a CPP assessment. Our findings could indicate that the prominent cognitive elements of the E.ON sample are: complexity, trial and error, categorizing, pragmatic, logical reasoning, exploration, structured, and holistic. Furthermore, the number of votes in the voting questionnaire correlates with the level of work which classifies the individuals according to their strategic thinking abilities in the CPP assessment. Therefore, a higher number of votes indicate stronger strategic thinking abilities in the CPP assessment. Thus, it could suggest that the strongest strategic thinkers in the sample at E.ON were identified.

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