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Paper info: Top Managers Making Sense of Disruption in Financial Business


Top Managers Making Sense of Disruption in Financial Business


Maria Holmlund
Hanken School of Economics
Maria Holmlund ,
Tore Strandvik
Hanken School of Economics
Tore Strandvik and Ilkka Lähteenmäki

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 32nd IMP-conference in Poznan, Poland in 2016.


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Digitalization is currently an issue that can be seen as vital to business and to a company’s competitiveness as it causes changes and challenges to companies’ markets, business models, offerings and customer relationships. How managers respond to these challenges is grounded in their mental model of their business and aspects of it. Within the IMP approach research has mainly employed the ARA (Actors, Resources, Activities) model until Welch and Wilkinson (2002) added Ideas as a representation for logics, norms, ideologies, schemas, and mental models as a fourth dimension. Strandvik and Holmlund (2015) further suggested that the ARA model’s company, relationship, and network levels should be augmented with an individual level since individuals’ mental models affect Ideas on other levels. We focus in this paper on individuallevel schemas as fundamental building blocks in business actors’ adaptation to changes in their business environment. This paper delves into how top managers in a bank´s wealth management unit make sense and interpret disruption challenges caused by digitalization of their own business. The paper develops a generic model for investigating managers’ interpretation, their mental model, of marketing challenges in dynamic markets. The model, labelled the DOT-model (Doing, Observing, Thinking) is based on the assumption that a manager in action is driven by an idiosyncratic mental model that reflects how they reason and react emotionally, what they pay attention to and observe, and what they decide to do in normal as well as exceptional situations. This means that their doing, observing and thinking are related but not necessarily congruent expressions based on an underlying mental model. The model becomes a tool for understanding how individual mental models influence business action.