Executive Information Search Within Top Management Teams and its Impact on Organizational Innovation

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The focus of this dissertation is an examination of an important yet understudied managerial activity - that of information search. Information is an essential component to the functions of managers, and the way in which information is gathered should therefore be of concern. Given a limited amount of research in this area, two major questions are addressed: What is the relationship between information search activities in top management teams and organizational innovation? To what extent is such a relationship affected by the capability of the top management team to integrate the information gathered through search?

In this dissertation, I deal specifically with the search activities of top management teams, differentiating this research from the exclusively organizational focus on search that is present in the innovation literature. Executive information search is thus proposed as a relatively new concept for which I explore a more comprehensive and fine-grained characterization of search than has been attempted before. As a fundamentally individual-level behavior, the characteristics of search are poorly understood. This dissertation develops a model of search that makes the distinction between where search is conducted (terrain) and how search is carried out (process). Further, drawing on ideas from economics, decision-making, and innovation literatures, a set of key search characteristics are developed within the dimensions of both the search terrain and the search process.

The findings of this study are in line with previous research that highlights the importance of search. Search that is more effortful, more adaptive, or which draws upon a mix of resource and market information, has a significant impact on organizational innovation. Other characteristics of search are also important, but must be considered in terms of the interaction between how the search is conducted and where the search is conducted. These findings support the view of search as a multi-dimensional construct with several important characteristics that have an impact on organizational innovation.