Abstract

Research on life-cycles and growth stages suggests that founders will likely face a variety of difficult challenges as their firms mature and grow (Covin and Slevin, 1997; Dobrev and Barnett, 2005). The value of founders to their firm may diminish over time (Jayaraman et al., 1997) and they are often replaced by professional managers (Hanks et al., 1994). An underlying assumption behind these arguments is the difficulty of maintaining a fit between individual aspects of founders and the changing demands of their firms.

In this paper, we develop a framework for studying the effects of cognitive misfit on founders and their firms. We then test parts of this framework by operationalizing misfit as the interaction between the dominant decision-making style of the founder and the degree of formalization and structure in his or her respective firm. Varying degrees of fit will lead to different individual attitudes, intentions and behaviors and firm level performance outcomes.

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