The Entrepreneur as Business Leader

The Entrepreneur as Business Leader

Cognitive Leadership in the Firm

Silke Scheer

An entrepreneur who decides to found a firm and to hire employees has to tackle two central problems: their employees’ coordination and motivation. Drawing on findings from cognitive, social and organizational psychology, this book sheds new light on the relevance of bounded rationality and social learning in the process of leadership. Silke Scheer bridges some of the missing links that can be identified within the theory of cognitive leadership and demonstrates how its scope can be broadened by investigating group level processes, and how they can have an impact on the socialization of newcomers.

Chapter 3: Dyadic Processes: Cognitive Leader to Employee

Silke Scheer

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, entrepreneurship, economics and finance, economic psychology, politics and public policy, leadership


In the theory of cognitive leadership the cognitive leader is assumed to have two main ways for influencing the mental models of her employees and hence to diffuse her business conception and a common pool of references to them – in other words, to set her employees’ cognitive agendas or to act as a ‘meaning manager’ (Smircich and Morgan 1982): personal communication and observational learning (see Poole et al. 1989; Poole et al. 1990; Innami 1992; Orasanu 1994).1 This chapter explores the functioning of the cognitive leader’s personal communication and the employee’s observational learning. Additionally, operations that also facilitate the agenda setting effect are investigated. As far as this agenda setting effect, that is, the creation and shaping of the employees’ work-related mental models and especially the implementation of the business conception as a maxim, is due to dyadic processes. These are dealt with in this chapter. Those processes of the agenda setting effect that are based on the impact an established work group exerts on a newly hired colleague are discussed in Chapter 6. As a conclusion of the previous chapter we have stated that individuals tend to stick to their established mental models and can be assumed to be rather inert in changing them. Thus, before discussing the determining factors of influence via communication and learning we first have to explain why a newly hired employee (a ‘newcomer’) can be assumed to be motivated to learn about her new firm. This is the subject of Section 3.1. Section...

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