Abstract

How and why do entrepreneurs think differently from non-entrepreneurs? Research on entrepreneurial cognition tries to answer this question through examining the cognitive strategies entrepreneurs employ when making decisions for their ventures. This paper argues that one of the most effective and efficient cognitive strategies for entrepreneurs is to constantly “switch” between their intuition and logical analysis in coping with imperfect information in an environment of high complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty. Taking a dual processing perspective, our key argument is based on that intuition and analysis are two parallel systems in the human brain that an individual can freely access. Due to the demand for high level processing in complex decision making, individuals with limited cognitive resources can only focus their attention on one strategy—intuitive or analytic—at a time. In the paper we discuss the different types of switch: spontaneous vs. planned, forced vs. voluntary, conscious vs. subconscious, and affect driven vs. rational choice. We also show how individual differences and task characteristics can come into play and influence the outcome of the switch, as well as situations in which the switch can help or harm decision making processes in terms of the speed and the quality of the decision.

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