The milestone work of Powell, Lovallo, and Fox (2011) established the boundaries of a new field of research in management and organization studies: Behavioral Strategy. This new field “merges cognitive and social psychology with strategic management theory and practice” (Powell, 2011; p. 1371). From that, the ‘behavioral revolution,’ based on bounded rationality (Simon, 1947), dominant coalitions (Cyert and March, 1963), the investigation of sociodemographic features of executives (Hambrick and Mason, 1984), and the study of executives’ deviations from rationality (i.e., cognitive biases; Kahneman et al., 2011), is finally gain momentum in strategy research (Greve 2013; Levnithal, 2011). Additionally, behavioral strategy also serves as a good interpretative lens for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (Foss, 2020).
Notably, behavioral strategy is aimed at understanding: i) how the cognition of the individual scale up to collective behavior (Lovallo and Sibony, 2010; Gavetti, 2012), ii) how complex judgment in organizations is made (Garg, 2017; Augier et al., 2018), and iii) how designing organizational environments that can reduce the occurrence of biases (Echols and Neck, 1998; Cristofaro, 2017; Sibony et al., 2017). In brief, behavioral strategy deals with the “psychological origins of strategy” and try to advance them as to better exploit the antecedents of strategy – such as personality traits, mental health or disorders, beliefs, spirituality emotions, etc. (e.g., Ackers and Preston, 1997; Mendenhall, Butler, and Ehat, 2014) – and how it is ‘really’ formed in organizations.
However, despite the above outlined good intentions in trying to “bring realistic assumptions about human cognition, emotions, and social behavior to the strategic management of organizations” (Powell et al., 2011; p. 1371), behavioral strategy research has mainly established its foundations on works investigating psychological variables on secondary data (Schumacher et al., 2020; Srivastava et al., 2020). Yet, the required consideration of the emotional side of human mind (Prietzel, 2020) which, for some scholars, is the driver of cognition and consequent behavior (Healey and Hodgkinson, 2018; Cristofaro; 2020), has been lacking.
As such, the goal of this Special Issue is to (re-)affirm the foundations of Behavioral Strategy as conceived in its origins. In brief, research based on multi-level theories and/or multiple empirical approaches – based on primary data – that take into account the behavior of executives intertwining affective states and cognition are strongly encouraged, so that our collective efforts will advance strategy as an act of human behavior rather than an application of tools.