Experimental Research in Social Science Seminar (at Nobelparken): Daniella Laureiro-Martinez, ETH Zürich

Title: New and ill-structured problems: Two problem solving strategies

Info about event


Tuesday 14 February 2017,  at 11:00 - 13:00


Interacting Minds Centre, J. Chr. Skous Vej 4, building 1483, room 312


Mette Trier Damgaard

Speaker: Daniella Laureiro-Martinez, Technology and Innovation Management Group, Department of Management Technology and Economics, ETH Zürich

Title: New and ill-structured problems: Two problem solving strategies

Abstract: When managers face complex ill-structured problems for which they lack experience, what is the better use of their time and attention? Are they better off trying to define and frame it or trying to repeatedly test possible solutions? What are the most common problem-solving phases, how do people combine the phases into different strategies, and how strategies lead to performance. This paper provides an answer to these questions using a novel method that combines the well known think-aloud protocols with the novel use of sequence analyses. We analyze the problem solving of 48 organizational leaders. We codify each of the phases in their problem-solving process and derive their strategies. We find two types of strategies: First, those that focus on the framing stages. Second, those that focus on the ideas that derive from thinking about implementation stages. Interestingly these two strategies differ in their ability to solve the problem with the latter obtaining a superior performance. We propose episodic future thinking, a particular form of prospection, as the cognitive function responsible for the differences in the strategies. We discuss the implications of these results for our theories of problem solving in novel contexts, strategy making, and learning.

Organizers: Alexander Koch (ECON) - Carsten Bergenholtz (MGMT) - Andreas Roepstorff (IMC)

Coordinator: Mette Trier Damgaard