UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Shazad Ansari, Cambridge, to host a research seminar discussing ‘Dealing with disruption in the insurance industry: A cognitive account of an incumbent’s responses to disruptive innovation.’
Research has shown that managerial cognition and cognitive frames play a prominent role in shaping organizational strategy particularly under conditions of market uncertainty and ambiguity. While this work has implications for understanding incumbent responses to disruptive innovation, relatively few attempts have been made to apply a cognitive lens directly to cases of disruptive innovation. To explore the cognitive processes involved in an incumbent organization following the emergence of a disruptive innovation, we conducted an in-depth case study of the response of Aviva plc. to a disruptive innovation – the rise of general insurance aggregator sites between 2002 and 2007. Based on our findings, we develop a grounded model of the cognitive forces involved. Whereas cognitive framing as often been seen to be binary or dichotomous, where members of a particular unit or background hold similar frames, we suggest that cognitive frames held by organizational members can incorporate non-binary and unevenly distributed cognitive frames. Organizational members develop different framing positions that we map across three separate framing dimensions – the Challenge Type, Response Urgency and Firm Heritage. We suggest that these frames are not compartmentalized but rather distributed holographically throughout the organization such that conflicting frames can be held by members of the same organizational department or group. We show the value of using a cognitive lens in extending extant explanations of firm responses following disruptive innovations.