Conversations across the table: shared cognition in top management teams




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Peer reviewed


Purpose – This paper aims to examine the shared mental models (SMMs) of a top management team (TMT) using an emergent perspective in conditions of uncertainty. The paper examines how a TMT conversation represents an emergent cognitive process to reach an action for future planning. Design/methodology/approach – The design uses an emergent SMM approach based on a TMT discussion in an uncertain context. Cognitive mapping techniques illustrate how concepts emerge and are structured. This approach addresses the need for an alternative to aggregate mapping methods and supports the notion of team cognition as an emergent and dynamic process. Findings – Findings showed that the emergence of a SMM could be elicited and represented using cognitive mapping techniques. Domain knowledge and social relationships supported the emergence of shared knowledge relevant for action on team tasks. A SMM based on team contribution and concept connectivity was identified. Research limitations/implications – The study is based on data collected from a recorded discussion in a quarterly company meeting, ten days before the UK’s original planned exit date, March 2019. Originality/value – This research study contributes to the SMM and team cognition literature streams by examining the TMT’s shared understanding as an emergent process. Empirical studies using cognitive mapping techniques in this context are rare.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Cognitive mapping, Team cognition, Shared mental models, Emergent process


Evans, M. (2021) Conversations across the table: shared cognition in top management teams, Team Performance Management,


Research Institute

Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)