Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings includes abstracts of all papers and symposia presented at the annual conference, plus 6-page abridged versions of the “Best Papers” accepted for inclusion in the program (approximately 10%). Papers published in the Proceedings are abridged because presenting papers at their full length could preclude subsequent journal publication. Please contact the author(s) directly for the full papers.

Antecedents of Organizational Aspirations: Attention to the Future, Past, and Situational Context

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    We investigate the antecedents of organizational aspirations (goals, targets). Specifically, we seek to enhance understanding of forward-looking and backward-looking antecedents, as well as situational context factors in aspiration determination (goal setting) through the undertaking of a mixed-method investigation. Study 1 reports findings of interviews of 21 top executives in 17 organizations. We identify future performance expectations as the most prevalent antecedent. Further, we observe that antecedents are more or less used depending on situational context factors. Using the lens of the Attention-Based View, we establish hypotheses by combining our inductive findings with logics from the broader goal-setting literature. In study 2, we test our hypotheses for forward-looking, backward-looking, and situational context factors based on a multi-country survey of 524 top executives. We find a high prevalence of forward-looking antecedents of aspirations and identify the salient roles of competitive turbulence, strategic aggressiveness, and performance relative to aspiration. Our results suggest updates to the behavioral theory of aspirations by demonstrating the prevalent use of forward-looking antecedents in aspiration determination. Overall, our work begins to lay a foundation for an attention-based theory of aspiration antecedents.

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