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Abstract

Purpose The concept of a mental model has been described by theorists from diverse disciplines. The purpose of this paper is to offer a robust definition of an individual mental model for use in organisational management. Design/methodology/approach The approach adopted involves an interdisciplinary literature review of disciplines, including system dynamics, psychology, cognitive science and organisational learning. Findings Critical reflection on the published individual mental model definitions revealed similarities and shortcomings. It is argued that here the literature presents some consensus in the concept being internally held and having the capacity to affect how a person acts. The proposed definition of an individual mental model was found to be robust through a complexity based inquiry conducted in an organisation within the hospitality industry. Research limitations/implications The application of the model has only been tested in one case study with a small staff sample in the hospitality industry. Thus generalisation is limited pending further testing. Practical implications The pilot study demonstrated the usefulness of the definition of an individual mental model in making the conceptualisations of work practices explicit at various levels within organisations. Originality/value This paper produces a definition that is lucid, inclusive, and specific for mental model research and knowledge management in organisations. The paper provides added value for academics and organisational practitioners interested in a robust definition for understanding the concept and the implications of mental models on an individual's actions.
Mental models: a robust definition
Laura Rook
School of Business, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Abstract
Purpose – The concept of a mental model has been described by theorists from diverse disciplines.
The purpose of this paper is to offer a robust definition of an individual mental model for use in
organisational management.
Design/methodology/approach – The approach adopted involves an interdisciplinary literature
review of disciplines, including system dynamics, psychology, cognitive science and organisational
learning.
Findings – Critical reflection on the published individual mental model definitions revealed
similarities and shortcomings. It is argued that here the literature presents some consensus in the
concept being internally held and having the capacity to affect how a person acts. The proposed
definition of an individual mental model was found to be robust through a complexity based inquiry
conducted in an organisation within the hospitality industry.
Research limitations/implications – The application of the model has only been tested in one
case study with a small staff sample in the hospitality industry. Thus generalisation is limited pending
further testing.
Practical implications The pilot study demonstrated the usefulness of the definition of an
individual mental model in making the conceptualisations of work practices explicit at various levels
within organisations.
Originality/value – This paper produces a definition that is lucid, inclusive, and specific for mental
model research and knowledge management in organisations. The paper provides added value for
academics and organisational practitioners interested in a robust definition for understanding the
concept and the implications of mental models on an individual’s actions.
Keywords Mental models, Organizational learning, Definition, Knowledge management,
Organizational behaviour, Complexity theory
Paper type Conceptual paper
1. Introduction
Wenger’s (2004, p. 245) work with communities of practice and social learning
contends that “shared practice by its very nature creates boundaries”. It is therefore
important to consider that boundaries not only connect communities but they also offer
learning opportunities. Boundaries can be considered to be places where perspective
meet or diverge and new possibilities arise. This paper will examine the concept of an
individual mental model by expanding the boundary where perspectives meet or
diverge and by providing a robust definition of a mental model for organisational
research. This was done through a logical deduction of the literature that defines the
concept of a mental model across many disciplines.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/0969-6474.htm
The research leading to these results has been approved by the University of Western Sydney
Human Research Ethics Committee, approval number H8402. The author also wishes to
acknowledge Genevieve Watson, Lecturer in the School of Business, UWS and the Editor and
two anonymous reviewers for their supportive and constructive comments on earlier drafts of
this paper.
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The Learning Organization
Vol. 20 No. 1, 2013
pp. 38-47
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
0969-6474
DOI 10.1108/09696471311288519
One way of getting into the minds of individuals in organisations and enhancing the
link between individual and organisational learning, is through understanding the
concept of a mental model. Mental models are important for the understanding of the
construction of knowledge and the actions of an individual (Kim, 2004; Senge, 1990).
Ultimately, organisational learning occurs through the individual members (Starkey
et al., 2004). More specifically, mental models capture an individual’s comprehension of
a specific domain in their mind and, therefore, a mental model becomes an important
construct for organisations and management to understand in order to enhance their
learning (Miller, 2003; Senge, 2006; Starkey et al., 2004).
Although the concept of a mental model has been researched in various disciplines,
the definition of what a mental model encompasses remains indistinct. Through a
synthesis of the learning literature, it is revealed there is no robust definition of an
individual mental model for organisational research. This paper fills that gap. This
paper begins by exploring the current literature across disciplines and then goes on to
propose the definition of an individual mental model for organisational research. From
here the researcher has deconstructed and expanded on how the mental model
definition was developed. The paper concludes by providing empirical support for the
robust nature and usefulness of the definition in people and knowledge management in
organisations.
2. Reconstructing the concept of a mental model
2.1 Mental models: an ambiguous concept
A key consideration when dealing with the concept of a mental model is defining and
examining the aspects of the concept. In systems dynamics, psychology and cognitive
psychology several theorists have followed independent paths in attempting to
describe, and define the concept of a mental model. Thus, it is not surprising that there
is no agreement about the definitions of mental models. Furthermore, in the process of
attempting to define the concept of a mental model, terms such as cognitive maps or
schemas have also been used to describe the same phenomenon.
According to system dynamics, the development of the concept of a mental model
dates back to industrial dynamics where Forrester (1971) describes it as a mental
image of the world that contains selected concepts and relationships. In contrast, fellow
system dynamics theorists describe mental models as implicit causal maps (Sterman,
1994) or a core network of familiar facts (Morecroft, 1994) as held by a person.
However, theorists in psychology define a mental model as having the same structure
as the situation that it represents, or consisting of symbolic representations (Craik,
1943).
Theorists in the interdisciplinary fields of human machine interaction, cognitive
science, psychology and organisational learning have also provided varying
definitions of the concept of a mental model. In the field of human machine
interaction, Norman (1983) describes that mental models are formed by people of
themselves, and of the things they interact with in their environment. This means that
according to Norman (1983), a mental model must be functional naturally evolving, but
need not be technically accurate. Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary (philosophy,
linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, anthropology) study of the
mind and its processes. As such it considers that the human brain is a physical symbol
system (Miller, 2003; Senge, 2006). This means that the human brain can be described
Mental models: a
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39
and explained by computational methods because “a symbol system does nothing but
computation” (Senge, 2006, p. 8). Whereas in the field of psychology, researchers define
mental models as cognitive structures that serve different purposes, such as in
schemas that perceive, and remember information about people (Fiske and Taylor,
1991). In the organisational learning literature, the concept of a mental model can be
deduced from Argyris and Schon’s (1978) theory of action. Argyris and Schon’s (1978)
theory claims that our knowledge must be crafted in ways in which the mind can use it,
in order to make it actionable (Fulmer and Keys, 2004). Additionally, Kim (2004)
describes the concept of a mental model as implicit and explicit understandings, ideas,
memories and experiences.
It is evident, when reviewing the various definitions of a mental model, that the
concept has been defined differently by multiple theorists across many disciplines. It
can be suggested that these differences in definitions hinder communication among
researchers, as the definitional aspects under the same generic terms continue to go
unexamined and unnoticed (Doyle and Ford, 1998).
2.2 Mental models are internally held
When the definitions of the concept of a mental model, provided by theorists across
and within the disciplines, are compared, it is arguable that there is some consensus in
the concept being described as being internally held. That is, within the mind of the
individual. Several theorists describe mental models as being internally held (Craik,
1943; Doyle and Ford, 1998; Kelly, 1963; Kim, 1993; Senge, 1990; Vazquez et al., 1996).
System dynamic theorists Vazquez et al. (1996, p. 25) describe their characterisation
of a mental model as a “psychological construction”. They use the term psychological
to refer to a mental model as being comprised of an internally held structure (Vazquez
et al., 1996). In 1998, Doyle and Ford reviewed and compared the concepts of a mental
model looking for similarities and differences in the past definitions of the concept.
They did this in order to develop their own unambiguous definition of a mental model,
as specific as possible for their associated discipline of system dynamics. As a result,
they describe a mental model as “something that exists only in the mind” and as an
“internal conceptual representation” (Doyle and Ford, 1998, p. 17). As an individual’s
mental model is an internal representation of their external environment, it can be
argued that a person’s mental model can be exhaustively described through following
the symbol system it represents (Senge, 2006).
According to Craik (1943) people construct and carry internal, symbolic
representations of external reality in their minds. Kelly (1963) supports and expands
on this view in his development of a theory of personal constructs. Kelly’s (1963) theory
describes a mental model as looking at the world through transparent patterns, created
through a continuous, though changing correspondence with our minds. This means
that mental models can be considered to have been constructed from an individual’s
own experience and thus their own bases of knowledge and concepts. The definitions
provided by both Craik (1943) and Kelly (1963) from the discipline of psychology, have
described a conceptualisation of a mental model that is inherently internally held.
In organisational learning literature, Senge (1990, p. 175) describes mental models as
“deeply ingrained assumptions, generalisations or even pictures or images”. Similarly,
Kim (1993) describes mental models as being an integrated interpretation. Both Senge
(1990) and Kim (1993) discuss and imply in their definitions that mental models are
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internally integrated, or that we carry something in our heads, that is embedded in our
minds.
Despite a difference in opinion regarding other aspects of the concept of a mental
model, theorists (Craik, 1943; Doyle and Ford, 1998; Kelly, 1963; Kim, 1993; Senge,
1990; Vazquez et al., 1996) have all defined the concept of a mental model as being
internally held. It has also been determined that when a mental model is being referred
to as being internally held, it means that it is something that exists within the mind of
the individual, thus implying that it is a personally and internally created concept.
2.3 Mental models affect individual actions
Through a comparison of literature, it also becomes clear that the different effects a
mental model can have as discussed by theorists, can be categorised according to how
a person’s mental model is thought to affect their actions. The dominant thought in
psychology about the concept of a mental model is that “judgment, reasoning, and
problem solving is based on the manipulation of complex mental representations that
intervene between stimuli and behavioural responses” (Doyle and Ford, 1998, p. 9). As
the complex mental representations intervene between stimuli and behavioural
responses, there is a possibility for the individual’s actions to be affected.
Theorists in the discipline of system dynamics describe the concept of a mental
model as important for providing information about the structure, and relationships in
dynamic systems, as well as improving the quality of dynamic decisions (Doyle and
Ford, 1998). The aspect of improving the quality of dynamic decisions suggests that a
mental model has the capacity to influence, or affect, how an individual makes
judgements, and consequently affect how a person acts.
Moreover, a substantial proportion of the literature in cognitive psychology claims
that a mental model is a part of how knowledge is represented in the mind. As a result,
mental models are claimed to have different purposes, such as narration
comprehension (Bower and Morrow, 1990), or creating schemas or frameworks for
understanding people (Fiske and Taylor, 1991). These examples support the view that
a person’s mental model can influence such things as comprehension, judgement and
understanding, thus affecting how an individual acts.
In organisational learning literature, the term “mental model” is used for describing
the related concept of a “learning organisation” (Argyris and Schon, 1978; Senge, 1990),
or in describing the process of learning itself (Baets, 2006; Kim, 1993, 2004; Morgan,
2006; Weick, 1995). Specifically, mental models have been claimed by theorists to affect
how we act and what we see (Senge, 1990), while influencing our actions through their
ability to restrict our understanding (Kim, 2004). Additionally, Argyris and Schon
(1978) based their theory of organisational learning on the premise that individuals
shape their actions on their mental models. Kim (2004), Senge (1990), and Argyris and
Schon (1978) further support the view that our mental models have the capacity to
affect how we act.
The previous sections have outlined that the concept of a mental model is somewhat
ambiguous. However through comparison and close attention to the definitional
aspects of the concept, it can be argued that, there is some consensus in the concept
being internally held and as having the capacity to affect how a person acts. Therefore,
these aspects are important for consideration when attempting to understand what a
mental model is.
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3. A robust definition
The previous sections have outlined how, although the concept of a mental model is
somewhat ambiguous, comparison and close attention to the definitional aspects of a
concept can reveal similarities across disciplines. It is argued that in the case of the
definition of an individual mental model there is some consensus in the concept being
internally held, and as having the affect how a person acts. The term “mental model”,
when used in this definition, is referring to an individual’s mental model; a mental
model held by one person rather than the widely researched and discussed concept of a
shared mental model. This definition is developed out of the similarities found in the
literature and thus refers to a mental model as having the capacity to influence the
attitudes, views, actions, behaviours and decisions of the individual, including the
capacity to assist and limit a person actions and or decisions in the workplace.
Therefore, the concept of an individual “mental model”, when used as a term in this
research refers to:
A concentrated, personally constructed, internal conception, of external phenomena
(historical, existing or projected), or experience, that affects how a person acts.
This definition can be deconstructed as:
Concentrated. The word concentrated was specifically chosen to highlight the depth
(Senge, 1990), and rich intuitive detail (Richardson and Pugh, 1981) of a mental model,
while implying exclusivity, or close mental attention to a specific topic.
Personally constructed. When describing something as personally constructed, the
subjective and personal nature of the phenomenon is highlighted. This important
aspect is derived from Kelly (1963) who states in his theory of personal constructs that
an individual personally builds constructs, and attempts to fit them over the realities of
the world.
Internal conception. Internal conception is used to acknowledge that a mental model
exists inside the mind of an individual. The internal aspect of the concept of a mental
model is a common theme found when analysing the definitions provided by past
theorists (Craik, 1943; Doyle and Ford, 1998; Kim, 2004; Senge, 1990; Vazquez et al.,
1996). More specifically by using the term “conception” it is clear that not only do
individuals carry small-scale models of external reality in their mind (Craik, 1943), but
that these models are often incomplete internal conceptions of external phenomena.
External phenomena (historical, existing or projected) or experience. This phrase
implies that for a mental interpretation to be called an individual mental model it must
interpret something external to an individual’s mind (Doyle and Ford, 1998). Doyle and
Ford’s (1998) definition was an attempt to be clearer about the aspects of a mental model.
However, in friendly but critical commentary, it was suggested that it is also useful to
build models of entities that do not exist in their entire ty outside the mind (Lane, 1999). In
consideration of Lane’s (1999) suggestions for improvement, Doyle and Ford (1999)
revised their definition to include external systems that are historical, existing or
projected. In doing so, there has been significant improvement made by not excluding
the idea that mental models can also be a referent for a system that existed at some point
in the past (historical), or is planned, figured or estimated for the future (projected). This
is of particular importance for inclusion in this definition as it makes it clearer by
specifically not excluding the possibility of a mental model forming of phenomena that
does not exist, in its entirety, outside of the mind (historical, existing or projected).
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Additionally, the use of the word experience, reinforces that despite the nature of the
mental model (historical, existing or projected), it remains that a mental model is
developed through a subjective interpretation of an individual’s experiences. This
highlights that mental models formed by an individual, are subjected to being different
to another’s mental model, as individuals interpret experiences differently.
Affects how a person acts. A mental model has been described as having the
capacity to affect how a person acts ( Jensen and Rasmussen, 2004). This aspect is
important for inclusion in defining the concept of a mental model, as organisational
learning may only be demonstrated when selected ideas are effectively executed into
practice (Chen, 2005). This means that the successful organisation is one that
understands and investigates mental models in order to use the knowledge learned
from them to shape the actions of the individual or individuals (Chen, 2005). This is
achieved through the mental model influencing what an individual comprehends, as it
is through an individual’s mental models that they make sense and shape their
response to correspond (Senge, 1990).
4. Empirical support
The proposed definition described previously has been tested in one organisation
within the Hospitality industry. The definition was successful in identifying and
understanding Management and staff’s mental models about the current work
practices in the organisation, and their views of ideal work practices.
The research method used was a complexity-based inquiry (Kuhn, 2009) which
involved semi structured interview questions. This is because the complexity-based
inquiry method is a way of “gaining insight into why particular ways of organising to
get things done arise and persist in organisations” (Kuhn, 2009, p. 84). This was of
particular importance to the research as it allowed for the adaption of the
complexity-based inquiry methods, and metaphors, to the work practices by looking at
my interest of concern, the mental models. The interview questions were shaped
around the proposed mental model definition. This allowed the conversations with
participants to be centred on how the participant views and feels about the work
practices in the club, as well as what they feel to be their idea of ideal work practice.
Additionally, by paying attention to what the participant says as well as observing
how they are feeling throughout the interview by observing body language, the
participant’s mental model of the work practices were revealed.
Fundamentally, when the mental models of current work practices as held by
management and staff were compared, they were found to be different. Not only are
management and staff mental models different when compared, but individuals within
the two researched participant groups were discovered to have different mental
models. This is seen in the example which follows where within management;
individuals have different understandings of the current work practices. Presented in
the following are quotes from two participants making explicit their mental models of
the current work practices:
I wouldn’t say they were good (work practices), I would say they are open to interpretation
(Participant A).
We have got a lot of procedures but most are very loosely supervised or let go and forgotten
even after a week (Participant B).
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These management participants have indicated that their mental model of the current
work practices in the organisation are that they are not structured, open to
interpretation by staff and not enforced. When the same two participants were asked of
their vision of how work practices should be developed, or their actions towards how
they may fix or deal with the current work practices, the individuals responded
differently.
My belief is there should be someone in charge of training and given the time to train
(Participant A).
I think we should start trusting staff again (Participant B).
To surmise, Participant A’s mental model of current or existing work practices was
that they are “open to interpretation”. As a result their mental model of ideal or
projected work practices is that “there should be training” to ensure there is no room
for interpretation. Participant B has indicated that their current, existing mental model
of work practices is “we have a lot of procedures”. As a result their mental model of
ideal or projected work practices is that “trusting staff” would mean less procedures
and less inconsistency. This shows that although a person’s mental model of the
existing situation may be broadly similar to the person working next to them, mental
models have the capacity to affect how a person acts, or responds as it was shown in
this case. Moreover this proves that understanding individual mental models is
imperative when it comes to the management of people and knowledge in an
organisation (the detailed findings of this research are currently being edited for
publication).
Previously it was made clear that the proposed definition was satisfactory in
revealing the mental models of work practices as held by management and staff, as it
proved that across these two groups and within these two group individuals are
influenced and driven by their own individual mental models when in the workplace.
In the following a participant’s mental model has been selected and focussed on in
order to further establish the proposed definition. The participant’s mental model
unfolds as they are asked how decisions are made about what needs to be done in the
organisation.
“Oh geez, really all I can say is everything here is on a reactive level and really only push
factors push things through, there is no pull factor here to optimize performance or anything
like that, and everything is a critical push factor. What I do, and I’m very good at it, I have a
very good memory for things so I just wait for a critical incident, and problem to just end up
in my office ... so what I do is I need to sort those things, so between you and me (pause)
because no one is really looking at it because nobody wants to deal with the problem, I push
everything that I know that is wrong through the place to fix the problem, but I will push
everything else through I can, so I’m using a construct to fix other areas of the business on an
excuse, but I have to wait for a critical incident. It’s not as well managed as it could be, you
don’t maximise any of those things you’re just pushing everything up a little bit further. It’s
really to address the organisation, coz I’m a very firm believer that good management is very
silent, no one should really know, that’s how it happens, and that’s what I do and that’s the
only way I can really progress it (Participant C).
Personally constructed. The personally constructed element of the participant’s
discussion becomes apparent through the consistent use of “I” and reference to what
they do and how they view how decisions are made in the organisation.
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Internal conception. It is clear that the participant is discussing their internal
conception of the situation as they explicitly describe their form of reasoning about
decision making in the organisation. This is clear when they described “everything
here is on a reactive level and really only push factors push things through, there is no
pull factor here to optimize performance or anything like that, and everything is a
critical push factor”. By indicating that their own actions are a result of them being a
firm believer in management being silent is also an indication of the internalised
conception of the situation.
External phenomena (historical, existing or projected) or experience. The participant
explicates an existing decision making process happening in the organisation. The
participant also described their own experience of the external phenomena and how
they react to the structure in place in the organisation.
Affects how a person acts. Most importantly, in this example it is clear how the
individual’s mental model of decision making in the organisation:
Everything here is on a reactive level and really only push factors push things through, there
is no pull factor here to optimize performance or anything like that, and everything is a
critical push factor.
affects how they act, perform their job:
So what I do is I need to sort those things [...] I push everything that I know that is wrong
through the place to fix the problem, but I will push everything else through I can, so I’m
using a construct to fix other areas of the business on an excuse, but I have to wait for a
critical incident.
Fundamentally, the individual’s internal conception that decision making in the
organisation is on a reactive level has affected how they respond to making decisions
and managing people in the organisation. Essentially, the previous two examples
prove that understanding individual mental models is imperative when it comes to the
management of people and knowledge in an organisation.
5. Limitations
The definition has been tested in one context, a small not-for-profit organisation set
within the Hospitality industry. Currently, the researcher is in the process of testing the
definition of an individual mental model as a tool for research in the different and wider
context of Work-integrated Learning. The testing of the definition is also open for
future research in other contexts.
6. Discussion and conclusion
This paper makes the necessary step forward in clarifying the importance of the
concept of a mental model. This paper synthesizes, analyses and evaluates the
published definitions of mental models, both explicit and implied, across a range of
disciplines. In doing this the paper has uncovered those aspects which researchers
explicitly agree on, and the differences in opinion or omissions which have gone
unnoticed or unexamined. The outcome of this process is a definition of an individual
mental model proposed as a basis for future research.
A concentrated, personally constructed, internal conception, of external phenomena
(historical, existing or projected), or experience, that affects how a person acts.
Mental models: a
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45
Mental models play a core role in such significant literature as Senge’s (2006) work in
creating and enhancing the link between individual and organisational learning
through being able to sustain organisational memory and in being able to influence the
behaviour of the individual. Through a complexity-based inquiry the individual
mental models of staff and management were revealed. These mental models proved to
affect the individual’s actions. Additionally, through a detailed deconstruction of a
participant’s complex mental model and how it illustrates the proposed definition the
robustness of the definition is established. In essence, this paper contributes to the area
of knowledge management in organisations through the development of a clear,
inclusive and specific definition of an individual mental model for research.
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About the author
Laura Rook has completed an undergraduate degree in Business, majoring in Human Resource
Management and Industrial Relations from the University of Western Sydney. She also has
completed and received a first class Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Hons) degree from the
University of Western Sydney, which awarded her the Australian Postgraduate Award, and a
UWS top up as a result of being one of the highest ranked applicants. Last year, in 2011 she
presented a paper with colleague Genevieve Watson at the WACE 17th International Conference
on Cooperative and Work Integrated Learning: Historic Challenges, Global Solutions at Drexel
University Philadelphia on the 14-17 June. She is currently in her second year of a doctorate of
Philosophy while also tutoring in areas such as change management, learning and development
and the management of people at work. Laura Rook can be contacted at:
16166905@student.uws.edu.au
Mental models: a
robust definition
47
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... However, this may involve a leap of faith, as it implies that subsidiary employees may be unaware of sustainability issues beyond their immediate work responsibilities (Haugh & Talwar, 2010). Unlike in traditional learning organizations, sustainability-driven learning organizations are expected to create new mental models to meet incongruent demands (Rook, 2013). However, our knowledge of how expatriate knowledge transfer addresses the transformation of sustainable mental models at the subsidiary level is limited. ...
... Mental models are internal representations of the world (Rook, 2013). The literature is increasingly recognizing that sharing a similar and accurate mental model is a precursor to effective organizational behaviors and performance (Langan-Fox, Anglim, & Wilson, 2004;Mohammed, Ferzandi, & Hamilton, 2010). ...
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Purpose This study aims to examine how expatriates’ knowledge can be adopted to transform the mental models at the subsidiary level and develop a sustainability-driven learning organization in the context of emerging multinational enterprises (EMNEs). Design/methodology/approach Through an inductive interpretive analysis of three Haier subsidiaries from developing countries, this study compares between old and new understandings of sustainability and examines how expatriates’ knowledge can facilitate shifts toward the new to foster a sustainability-driven learning organization. Findings The authors find that subsidiary employees face strategic and operational ambiguity concerning sustainability issues and that a mix of dissemination and reinforcement routines that align with headquarters’ expectations are used to maintain a continuous sustainability-driven learning pattern. Though EMNE subsidiaries may have contrasting understandings of sustainability, expatriate knowledge transfer can help change subsidiaries’ mental models and thus create sustainable capabilities and mindsets that form a sustainability-driven learning organization at the subsidiary level. Originality/value This study reveals the potential in applying expatriate knowledge transfer to transforming sustainable mental models in building sustainability-driven learning organizations.
... The term "mental model" occurs in several scientific disciplines. In her study of mental models in individuals, Rook (2013) identifies cross-disciplinary similarities in the term's use; the definition she uses is a "concentrated, personally constructed, internal conception of external phenomena (historical, existing or projected), or experience, that affects how a person acts" (p. 42). ...
... 42). Following Rook (2013), we can understand a mental model to be a form of subjective simplification or generalisation of reality, influencing behaviour and decisions. As decisions are made collectively at a more abstract level in military innovation processes, however, we find studies of so-called shared mental models to be most relevant. ...
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Heightened political tensions and advances in technological development have prompted Scandinavian countries to increase investment in military research and capability development. The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of why actors sharing similar strategic cultures implement new technology for military purposes differently. The research is founded on a cognitive-psychological perspective comparing two cases of innovation processes: Swedish nuclear weapons development during the Cold War and developments in Swedish cyber defence during the first decades of the 21st century. The main finding is that military innovation is better explained through a consideration of shared mental models of new technology than it is through a consideration of strategic cultures. The analysis shows there are implications for capability development. First, military innovation processes are only initiated if and when new technology appears militarily relevant to an actor; thus, the ability to correctly assess the military relevance of technology at an early stage is crucial. Second, the forming of shared mental models can both contribute to and counteract military innovation and, thus, decision-makers need to be aware both that mental models can be shared and that confirmation bias affects actors on a collective level. Third, it is likely that military innovation processes benefit from mental models being challenged and from diverging mental models being made evident. Consequently, it is good practice, also from this study’s perspective, to diversify and welcome different views on the use of new technology. Further studies are solicited in order to develop practical guidelines.
... Johnson-Laird [9] and Gentner and Stevens [10] represent some early works that studied mental models in different contexts of cognitive psychology. Since then, reviews of mental models can be found in [12], [14]- [17]. While it remains challenging to define mental models precisely, this section briefly reviews some cognitive topics (i.e., reasoning and memory) to explore how we may define and distinguish the notion of mental models. ...
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Mental model is a term that has been discussed in three contexts: (1) how mental models are understood in cognitive psychology, (2) how learners learn in science subjects, and (3) how people solve practical problems. Since mental models have been discussed in different contexts, this paper aims to conduct an integrative literature review that analyzes the materials published on mental models and their relevance for engineering education. The outcome of the review is a conceptual framework of mental models for engineering education with two highlights. First, mental models can help characterize learners’ (mis-)understanding of scientific concepts and technical systems. Second, mental models are of practical use when learners are engaged in some problem-solving tasks. In turn, mental models have a potential to support deep learning and project-based learning.
... Existing organizational research demonstrates that managers' mental models of an intervention are decisive for ensuring their active support [4,22]. A definition of an individual mental model is a concentrated, personally constructed, internal conception of external phenomena or experiences (past, present or projected) that affects how a person acts [23]. This definition is rooted in action and motivational theories, a core assumption of which is that people's intentions to perform an action depend on their situation-specific cognitions regarding expected outcomes, opportunities to act, and conducive or obstructive contextual conditions [24][25][26]. ...
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Research indicates that managers’ active support is essential for the successful implementation of mental health-related organizational interventions. However, there is currently little insight into what subjective beliefs and perceptions (=mental models) make leaders support such interventions. To our knowledge, this is the first qualitative systematic review of this specific topic, and it considers 17 qualitative studies of managers’ perspective. Based on the theory of planned behavior, this review provides an overview of three action-guiding factors (attitudes, organizational norms and behavioral control) that can serve as starting points for engaging managers in the implementation of mental health-related measures and ensuring their success. Our results provide evidence that supportive organizational norms may particularly help to create a common sense of responsibility among managers and foster their perceived controllability with respect to changing working conditions. Our study thus contributes to a more differentiated understanding of managers’ mental models of health-related organizational interventions.
... In such scenarios, the design paradigms known as human-centered design (HCD) (Deutschen Instituts für Normung, 2020) and value-sensitive design (VSD) (Friedman, 1996) have helped to improve the usability of robotic systems for novice operators (Coronado et al., 2021;Eiband et al., 2022), reduce workload by using custom designed interfaces (Pantano et al., 2020), or improve acceptance by changing the appearance of humanoid robots (Kahn et al., 2007). However, to achieve these results, design must aim to establish means of communication that enable humans to build good mental models of the application (Rook, 2013;Sofge, 2013;Hoff and Bashir, 2015;Teo et al., 2018;Demir et al., 2019;Kolbeinsson et al., 2019;Shahrdar et al., 2019). One recent example proving the benefit of good mental models can be seen in the work of (Tausch and Kluge, 2020). ...
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Adoption of human–robot collaboration is hindered by barriers in collaborative task design. A new approach for solving these problems is to empower operators in the design of their tasks. However, how this approach may affect user welfare or performance in industrial scenarios has not yet been studied. Therefore, in this research, the results of an experiment designed to identify the influences of the operator’s self-designed task on physical ergonomics and task performance are presented. At first, a collaborative framework able to accept operator task definition via parts’ locations and monitor the operator’s posture is presented. Second, the framework is used to tailor a collaborative experience favoring decision autonomy using the SHOP4CF architecture. Finally, the framework is used to investigate how this personalization influences collaboration through a user study with untrained personnel on physical ergonomics. The results from this study are twofold. On one hand, a high degree of decision autonomy was felt by the operators when they were allowed to allocate the parts. On the other hand, high decision autonomy was not found to vary task efficiency nor the MSD risk level. Therefore, this study emphasizes that allowing operators to choose the position of the parts may help task acceptance and does not vary operators’ physical ergonomics or task efficiency. Unfortunately, the test was limited to 16 participants and the measured risk level was medium. Therefore, this study also stresses that operators should be allowed to choose their own work parameters, but some guidelines should be followed to further reduce MSD risk levels.
... Mental models are cognitive representations of the external reality (Steger et al., 2021), often associated with, for instance, beliefs and assumptions firmly held by individuals, groups or scientists (Zhou et al., 2021) or knowledge structure (Yrjola et al., 2018), and act as filters for decision makers' attention (van Ments and Treur, 2021), guides judgment, reasoning and problem solving (Doyle and Ford, 1988: 9). Thus, the social norm in its mental model form offers a mental bridge between the stimuli and behavioral responses (Rook, 2013). For instance, rather than managing animal health using the conventional mental model to treat adverse outcomes or trying to prevent them (e.g., morbidity, mortality, performance loss), veterinarians can alter their mental models, such as developing a wellness version that stresses wellness behaviors and not sickness behaviors of animals (Falkner, 2022). ...
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The study sets forth to present a theoretical model derived from the theory of planned behavior (TPB) that employs a critical missing concept, the "mental model" in the extant literature for applications to organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB). Mental models are represented by the engineer, community-building, visionary, and artistic elements, and wide variations are evidenced across different age groups and positions. The questionnaire survey provides means of data collection at two public higher learning institutions (HLIs) in Thailand, and structural equation modeling (SEM) statistics provides the empirical validation base for both theoretical and practical insights. Perceived job performance is shown as a significant mediator between the antecedent variables (namely, proactive attitude, the different dimensions of mental model, and transformational leadership) and OCB, which is outcome-oriented and is reckoned as more directional and impactful. The theoretical implication further connects the mental modelled TPB to the job demand-resource (JDR) model.
... A mental model is the representation of knowledge that describes the core causal relationship in a domain. It is the basis by which an individual explains how events unfold and is therefore critical in problemsolving (Moray, 1998;Rook, 2013). Norman (2014) argues that people build internal representations of the systems with which they engage, and these representations "offer predictive and explanatory capability for comprehending the interaction." ...
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Operators' mental models play a central role in safety-critical domains like the chemical process industries. Accurate mental models, i.e., a correct understanding of the process and its causal linkages, are prerequisites for safe operation. Mental models are often defined and explained in abstract terms that make their interpretation subjective and prone to bias. In this work, we propose a Hidden Markov Model (HMM) based formalism to characterize control room operators' mental models while handling abnormal situations. We show that a suitable HMM representing the operator's mental model – including the states, state transition probabilities, and emission probability distributions – can be identified experimentally using data of the operator's control actions, eye gaze, and process variable values. This HMM can be used for the quantitative assessment of operators' mental models as illustrated using various case studies. We discuss the potential applications of the model in identifying various cognitive errors and human reliability assessment. In Part 2 of this paper, we use the proposed approach to assess operators' learning during training.
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BACKGROUND: The service sector is facing challenges due to its competitive environment. Thus it needs a transformation of the traditional sector into the learning sector. In this competitive atmosphere, organizations and institutions are putting several efforts into making itself learning organizations to upgrade their effectiveness and efficiency. OBJECTIVE: The current study aimed to examine the impact of learning organization from errors on organizational effectiveness under the mediating role of organizational commitment and job satisfaction. METHODS: The study has adopted a descriptive and quantitative approach. The data has been collected from the healthcare sector employees by applying a convenience sampling technique. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and SmartPLS-SEM was used for data and regression analysis. RESULTS: Findings revealed that organizational learning from errors has a significant and positive effect on organizational effectiveness. Results also divulged that organizational commitment and job satisfaction significantly mediate the relationship between organizational learning from errors and organizational effectiveness. CONCLUSIONS: Organizations are changing by moving towards a more informative and knowledge-gaining organizational culture, and organizational learning from errors positively and significantly affects organizational effectiveness.
Chapter
The purpose of this research is to explore the impacts of mHealth on existing health care from the aspect of regulation and innovation. It was investigated through a regulatory transition in the USA. I identified interactive regulators and medical entrepreneurs as potential innovators driving innovative change in mHealth. They have taken on the role of potential innovators after adopting a forward-thinking mindset, allowing innovators to take advantage of new technologies through new regulations and transforming communication between patients and medical doctors. This research provided a deeper understanding of the role of mHealth and clarify the potential factors affecting changes in the healthcare industry.
Thesis
Um Entscheidungen in der Gruppe zu treffen werden oft Multi-Attribute Group Decision Making (MAGDM) Methoden zur Hilfe gezogen. Um die Nützlichkeit dieser MAGDMs zu erhöhen, können diese in ein digitales System überführt werden. Dadurch wären Gruppenentscheidungen zeitlich- und ortsunabhängig durchführbar und Entscheider könnten sogar über mobile Endgeräte an Entscheidungen teilnehmen. Durch diese digitale Überführung kann allerdings die Akzeptanz des Verfahrens verringert wird. ABX-Lex bietet eine lexikografische MAGDM Methode mit äquivalenten Klassen, welche explizit für die Verwendung in Gruppen ausgelegt ist. Eine Konsensbildung innerhalb der Gruppe wird hierbei durch den Austausch mentaler Modelle der Entscheider unterstützt. Das Verfahren ist speziell für eine solche digitale Überführung vorgesehen und besitzt eine hohe Wahrscheinlichkeit akzeptiert zu werden. In dieser Arbeit wird daher ABX-Lex als digitaler Moderator in ein solches System überführt, sodass es selbst für Nicht-Experten ermöglicht wird, Entscheidungen vorzubereiten. Hierbei soll untersucht werden, ob Entscheider eine solche digital moderierte Entscheidungsvorbereitung akzeptieren würden. In zwei Experimenten konnte gezeigt werden, dass die digital moderierte Entscheidungsvorbereitung als digitaler Moderator akzeptiert wurde. Darüber hinaus war es sogar für Nicht-Experten möglich, Entscheidungen vorzubereiten und alle Prozesse nachzuvollziehen und verstehen zu können. Die hier vorgestellte digital moderierte Entscheidungsvorbereitung kann sowohl zeitlich- und ortsunabhängig als auch in zahlreichen weiteren Kollaborationsplattformen umgesetzt werden. Dadurch ist es sogar möglich Entscheidungen über Internet-fähige mobile Endgeräte spontan von überall vorzubereiten.
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This article revisits a conceptual definition of "mental models of dynamic systems" proposed for use in system dynamics research by Doyle and Ford and commented on by Lane. Lane's proposed amendments to the definition are discussed in turn, with particular attention to the history and appropriate use of the term "cognitive map." A revised definition informed by Lane's commentary is offered. Copyright (C)1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Book
This fascinating book argues for a new way of looking at the world and at human systems, companies or (Western) society as a whole. Walter R.J. Baets argues that we should let go of our drive to control, manage and organize, in order to be able to create an ideal environment for continuous learning, both for ourselves and for our collaborators. Arguing in favour of a holistic management approach, and very much in opposition to the short-term shareholder value driven approaches that are popular today, Baets' book develops a logic founded in real life observations, examples and cases that every reader will recognize in their daily practice. It guides the reader to understand an alternative paradigm and allows them finally to be able to work with the dynamics of business on a daily basis. A must-read for students of complexity, strategy and organizational behaviour, this well-researched, well-argued book skilfully guides the reader through this interesting subject.