Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

The role and antecedents of contextual intelligence in complex decision-making environments: The case of the pharmaceutical/biotech sector


Objective: The objective of this article is to explore the concept of contextual intelligence (CI) as an important individual trait in complex decision-making environments and to understand its antecedents.

Research Design & Methods: We surveyed 52 professionals from the pharmaceutical/biotech sector to explore the antecedents of CI behaviours by using Spearman’s rho correlation analysis, Student’s t-tests, and a two-stage cluster analysis.

Findings: Gender does not appear to differentiate the level of CI, while age is only negatively correlated with future-minded behaviour. Respondents with doctorate education were characterised by a higher level of communitarian behaviours than those with lower education qualification attainment.

Implications & Recommendations: In roles which are subject to VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) conditions, the integration of linguistics, cultural awareness, and analytical abilities are important besides interpersonal skills, especially in face-to-face or virtual interactions.

Contribution & Value Added: Our study provides a novel empirical contribution to the concept of CI through an exploratory study of medical affairs professionals and their self-reported CI behaviour profiles, including several individual-level characteristics.


Contextual intelligence, decision-making, VUCA, complex environments, decision-maker characteristics

(PDF) Save

Author Biography

Richard Evans

Doctoral Candidate at the Poznań University of Economics and Business, holds, among others, an MSc in Oncology of the Newcastle University and an MBA of the University of Wales. He has worked for over thirty years in the pharmaceutical industry across a range of both commercial and medical leadership roles at local country, regional, above-country, and global levels. He has maintained links with academia through his involvement as a previous external examiner for postgraduate courses for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) at Swansea Metropolitan University, TOPRA MSc in Regulatory Science (Pharmaceuticals and medical devices) at the University of Hertfordshire, and currently for the MSc in Regulatory Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

Piotr Trąpczyński

Associate Professor at the Poznań University of Economics and Business, Department of International Competitiveness at the Institute of International Business and Economics. His research interests include foreign direct investments and divestments, export performance and export exits, along with business models. He has published his research, among other things, in the Journal of World Business, Journal of Business Research, International Business Review, European Management Journal or the European Journal of International Management.


  1. Breen, J.M. (2017). Leadership Resilience in a VUCA World. In R. Elkington, M.V.D Steege, J. Glick-Smith, & J.M. Breen (Eds.) Visionary Leadership in a Turbulent World. Emerald Publishing Limited.
  2. Child, J. (2009). Context, Comparison, and Methodology in Chinese Management Research. Management and Organization Review, 5, 57-73.
  3. Child, J., Karmowska, J., & Shenkar, O. (2022). The role of context in SME internationalization – A review. Journal of World Business, 57.
  4. Elbanna, S., & Child, J. (2007). Influences on strategic decision effectiveness: Development and test of an integrative model. Strategic Management Journal, 28, 431-453.
  5. Elbanna, S., Hsieh, L., & Child, J. (2020). Contextualizing Internationalization Decision-making Research in SMEs: Towards an Integration of Existing Studies. European Management Review, 17, 573-591.
  6. Hough, J.R., & White, M.A. (2003). Environmental dynamism and strategic decision‐making rationality: an examination at the decision level. Strategic Management Journal, 24(5), 481-489. Retrieved from on December 16, 2022.
  7. Khanna, T. (2014). Contextual Intelligence. Harvard Business Review, 92, 58-68.
  8. Khanna, T. (2015). A Case for Contextual Intelligence. Management International Review (MIR), 55(2), 181-190.
  9. Kiss, A.N., Williams, D.W., & Houghton, S.M. (2013). Risk bias and the link between motivation and new venture post-entry international growth. International Business Review, 22(6), 1068-1078.
  10. Knight, W.E., Moore, M.E., & Coperthwaite, C.A. (1997). Institutional Research: Knowledge, Skills, and Perceptions of Effectiveness. Research in Higher Education, 38, 419-433.
  11. Kutz, M., & Stiltner, S. (2022). Integration of contextual intelligence by sport medicine clinicians in the United States. International Journal of Healthcare Management, 1-10.
  12. Kutz, M.R. (2017). Contextual Intelligence – How Thinking in 3D Can Help Resolve Complexity, Uncertainty and Ambiguity, Springer Nature.
  13. Kutz, M.R., Ball, D.A., & Carroll, G.K. (2017). Contextual intelligence behaviors of female hospital managers in the United States. International Journal of Healthcare Management, 11, 155-163.
  14. Kutz, M.R., & Bamford-Wade, A. (2013). Understanding Contextual Intelligence: A critical competency for today’s leaders Emergence: Complexity & Organization, 15, 55-80.
  15. Maitland, E., & Sammartino, A. (2015). Managerial cognition and internationalization. Journal of International Business Studies, 46, 733-760.
  16. Maslow, A.H. (1968). Toward a psychology of being. New York: Van Nostrand.
  17. Motamedi, K. (2018). Contextual competence. International Journal of Business and Management, 6(1), 26-35.
  18. Niittymies, A., & Pajunen, K. (2020). Cognitive foundations of firm internationalization: A systematic review and agenda for future research. International Business Review, 29, S0969593119309412.
  19. Nye, J. (2008). The Powers to Lead. Oxford University Press.
  20. Paes, P. (2019). Practical wisdom, a dormant character in medical education?. Medical Education, 53, 428-429.
  21. Reuber, A.R., Dimitratos, P., & Kuivalainen, O. (2017). Beyond categorization: New directions for theory development about entrepreneurial internationalization. Journal of International Business Studies, 48(4), 411-422.
  22. Sarkar, A. (2016). We live in a VUCA World: the importance of responsible leadership. Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, 30, 9-12.
  23. Shapiro, D.L., Von Glinow, M.A., & Xiao, Z. (2007). Toward Polycontextually Sensitive Research Methods. Management and Organization Review, 3, 129-152.
  24. Shepherd, N.G., & Rudd, J.M. (2014). The Influence of Context on the Strategic Decision-Making Process: A Review of the Literature. International Journal of Management Reviews, 16, 340-364.
  25. Sternberg, R.J. (1985). Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of human intelligence. Cambridge University Press.
  26. Teagarden, M.B., Von Glinow, M.A., & Mellahi, K. (2018). Contextualizing international business research: Enhancing rigor and relevance. Journal of World Business, 53(3), 303-306.
  27. Terenzini, P.T. (1993). On the nature of institutional research and the knowledge and skills it requires. Research in Higher Education, 34, 1-10.
  28. Theron, P., Britland, M., Holder, D., Ikeda, Y., Rewers, R.F., & Tiku, A. (2021). Promoting Best Practices for Medical Science Liaisons Position Statement from the APPA, IFAPP, MAPS and MSLS. Therapeutic Innovation & Regulatory Science, 55, 1139-1144.
  29. Venter, H. (2017). Self-Transcendence: Maslow’s Answer to Cultural Closeness. Journal of Innovation Management, 4(4).
  30. Verdugo-Castro, S., Sánchez-Gómez, M. C., & García-Holgado, A. (2022). University students’ views regarding gender in STEM studies: Design and validation of an instrument. Education and Information Technologies, 27, 12301-12336.
  31. WHO (1946). Constitution. Retrieved from on December 16, 2022.


Download data is not yet available.

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.