Don’t Get It Misconstrued: Construal Level Shifts and Flexibility in the Upper Echelons

Whereas much of upper echelons research focuses on the background characteristics and traits of executives to explain their strategic choices, much less is understood about the information filtering process by which those characteristics manifest in strategic decisions. We develop theory to explain how executives process information by integrating construal level theory with upper echelons theory. Construal level theory describes how the same event can be interpreted in different ways, thus influencing the type of information people pay attention to, how they process that information, and the resulting decisions and actions. Our theoretical framework explores the dynamic nature of construal levels by developing two new constructs—construal shifts and construal flexibility. In doing so, we draw on self-regulation research to detail how executives can develop the capacity to modify how they process information to best meet changing situational demands. As an illustrative example, we apply our theory to the acquisition context and demonstrate the vital role played by construal shifts and flexibility for executives attempting to manage complex strategic actions. The end result is a framework by which executives can effectively navigate the challenging acquisition process.

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APA-Format Citation

Steinbach, A., Gamache, D. L., & Johnson, R. E. DON’T GET IT MISCONSTRUED: CONSTRUAL LEVEL SHIFTS AND FLEXIBILITY IN THE UPPER ECHELONS. Academy of Management Review, (ja).