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Drawing on a range of theoretical and empirical insights from strategic management and the cognitive and organizational sciences, we argue that strategic competence constitutes the ability of organizations and the individuals who operate within them to work within their cognitive limitations in such a way that they are able to maintain an appropriate level of responsiveness to the contingencies confronting them. Using the language of the resource based view of the firm, we argue that this meta-level competence represents a confluence of individual and organizational characteristics, suitably configured to enable the detection of those weak signals indicative of the need for change and to act accordingly, thereby minimising the dangers of cognitive bias and cognitive inertia. In an era of unprecedented informational burdens and instability, we argue that this competence is central to the longer-term survival and well being of the organization. We conclude with a consideration of the major scientific challenges that lie ahead, if the ideas contained within this paper are to be validated.


Suggested Citation
Sparrow, P. R., & Hodgkinson, G. P. (2006). What is strategic competence and does it matter? Exposition of the concept and a research agenda (CAHRS Working Paper #06-16). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.