A Growth and Fixed Mindset Exposition of the Value of Conceptual Clarity

Publication Date



Comments on an article by D. Scott DeRue et al. (see record 2012-21053-002). In reading their constructive review of the learning agility literature (DeRue et al.), the methodical deconstruction and reconstruction of the definition of learning agility struck me as a valuable process. In essence, learning agility is not defined as the motivation to learn or by performance success. Rather, learning agility is about how one learns from experience within the conceptual parameters of speed and flexibility. This conceptual clarity then provides a strong foundation to propose six cognitive and behavioral processes that underlie how one learns from experience. Despite my concerns about the proposed antecedents of learning agility, these concerns only reinforce my belief in the potential contributions of the authors’ article as it illustrates why conceptual clarity is so important. Specifically, the authors’ conceptual clarity and specification of the underlying cognitive and behavioral processes provide a strong platform for the purpose of this commentary: a proposal that Dweck’s (1999) implicit theory concept is a promising predictor of learning agility and engagement in the processes underlying learning agility. In summary, the focal article provides an excellent example of the vital, nitty-gritty research required to understand the essence of a construct, which is, in turn, a critical step for developing valid measures of the construct. This commentary sought to illustrate yet another powerful benefit of such research—that we also need conceptual clarity to effectively develop and test theoretical models of the substantive relationships of a construct such as learning agility.

Document Type



Growth Mindset, Learning Agility


Organizational Behavior and Theory


SMU Cox: Management & Organizations (Topic)