Analogical reasoning for diagnosing strategic issues in dynamic and complex environments

Kent D. Miller, Shu Jou Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Organizations interpret their environments by categorizing strategic issues as either opportunities or threats. They make such categorizations as inferences drawn from analogies from past experience. The accuracy of issue interpretations turns on: (1) which analogy is used, (2) what are the environment's properties, and (3) what is the timeframe? A computational model allows us to evaluate over time the accuracy of interpretations based on different forms of analogical reasoning in environments that differ in variation (unpredictability and dynamism) and complexity (dimensionality and ruggedness). This study elaborates a contingency approach to assessing analogical reasoning by organizations in which the form of analogical reasoning, environmental properties, and time all matter. Our findings indicate when particular forms of reasoning produce relatively more accurate inferences about opportunities and threats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2000-2020
Number of pages21
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec


  • analogy
  • computational model
  • environmental complexity
  • organizational decision making
  • strategic issue diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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