Comparing Aspiration Models: The Role of Selective Attention

22 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2012

See all articles by Mark Washburn

Mark Washburn

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Philip Bromiley

University of California, Irvine

Date Written: July 2012

Abstract

For many years, scholars have used a variety of models to measure organizational aspirations, but these alternative measures reflect differing assumptions about the decision‐making processes determining aspiration levels. This study begins by examining some of the implications of the aspiration models in use. It then extends the theoretical model of aspiration levels from the behavioural theory of the firm to incorporate varying attention, another fundamental concept from the theory. Finally, it uses direct aspiration measures on the sales performance of retailers in a large automotive manufacturer to assess the alternative theories by comparing existing models with one that incorporates varying attention. We find support for a model where the importance of the factors influencing aspiration levels varies with the level of past firm performance relative to industry performance. Thus, the varying attention so central to the behavioural theory of the firm influences the formulation of aspirations.

Keywords: aspirations, behavioural theory, search, social comparison

Suggested Citation

Washburn, Mark and Bromiley, Philip, Comparing Aspiration Models: The Role of Selective Attention (July 2012). Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 49, Issue 5, pp. 896-917, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2085070 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2011.01033.x

Mark Washburn

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Philip Bromiley

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

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