Tuck Professor Wins Strategic Management Society Best Paper Prize

Professor Gavetti's paper was recognized for its impact on teaching, research, and practice.

The Strategic Management Society has awarded Tuck associate professor Giovanni Gavetti and co-author Mary Tripsas of the Carroll School of Management the 2015 Dan and Mary Lou Schendel Best Paper Prize for their study, “Capabilities, Cognition, and Inertia: Evidence From Digital Imaging.”

The award is given annually to a paper published five or more years previously in the Strategic Management Journal and is based on the paper’s impact in terms of the number of citations it receives and its influence on teaching, research, and/or practice.

Published in 2000, Gavetti’s study examined the impact a manager’s “cognitive inertia”—his or her rigidity with respect to fundamental beliefs or assumptions about a business, technology, or the nature of the competitive game—has on a firm’s ability to adapt to changes in its environment.

The authors found that cutting-edge capabilities alone do not guarantee success. Rather top managers often must question and change their fundamental “cognition” to thrive in a new and evolving competitive landscape.

“This paper strengthened a conviction I had early in my scholarly journey—that a strategy paradigm would be very limited in its predictive and prescriptive implications without properly accounting for cognition,” said Gavetti, who teaches the core course Competitive & Corporate Strategy at Tuck. “This award confirms that belief and for that reason it is at once a profound gratification and an encouragement to continue my journey.”