Great Expectations and Dodgy Explanations
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How do organizations assess and explain their performance? Prior studies have attempted to demonstrate that, like individuals, organizations take credit for good performance and blame poor performance on influences in their environment. However, these studies have found only a weak relationship between performance and attribution at the level of the firm. This dissertation seeks to elucidate this relationship by conceptualizing firms as social agents and by combining aspiration and attribution theory for the first time at the level of the firm. Analysis of performance explanations by large, public manufacturing firms in 2004 and 2005 revealed that firms' performance explanations correlated with their cognitive experiences of success and failure. These findings further understanding of organizational cognition, attribution, and image management.