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Collective Cognition: When Entrepreneurial Teams, Not Individuals, Make Decisions


G. Page West, III, tel.: (336) 758-4260; e-mail:


New venture success often depends on how the founding team collectively understands its world, estimates effects of possible actions, makes decisions, and allocates appropriate resources. Drawing on recent work in managerial cognition and entrepreneurship, this article argues for the importance of examining cognition at the team level. New venture strategy is used as a springboard to discuss collective cognition, although other important critical decision domains in new ventures may also be used to illustrate the arguments. In this and other such decision domains, collective cognition mediates between individual cognitions and firm actions and performance. A method for assessing entrepreneurial top management team cognition is developed and then tested in an exploratory study of technology-based new ventures. Two structural characteristics of collective cognition (differentiation and integration) are strongly related to firm performance, suggesting interesting opportunities for future entrepreneurship research in cognition.