Momentum and Organizational Risk Taking: Evidence from the National Football League

  • Lehman D
  • Hahn J
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This study examines how momentum shapes organizational risk
taking. We define momentum as a sustained and systematic
trajectory in performance over time, and we argue that such
trends impact interpretations of current performance as well as
expectations of future performance. Drawing on the variable focus
of attention model, we posit that momentum therefore directs the
focus of organizational attention between concerns of
aspirations, survival, and slack. Our conceptual model accounts
for momentum that occurs within a performance period as well as
that which occurs across periods. We propose that within- and
across-period momentums are unique in terms of when and how each
type impacts risk taking. We tested and found support for our
hypotheses in the context of 22,603 play-by-play decisions made
by the 32 teams of the National Football League during the
2000--2005 regular season games. Theoretical and practical
implications are discussed. This paper was accepted by Jesper
S\o{}rensen, organizations.

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  • David W Lehman

  • Jungpil Hahn

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