Publication details

Curvilinearity in the performance feedback and R&D relationship



Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Strategy and Management
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Economics and Administration

Keywords performance feedback; R&D intensity; ROA; Behavioral theory of the firm; German industrial firms
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Description Purpose The question of how the firm responds to performance feedback forms the backbone of the behavioral theory of the firm. Although the literature works with goals aspirations and additional determinants of a firm’s search activity – proximity to bankruptcy and slack resources – the majority of the empirical research assumes the firm’s response to performance feedback to be linear with a spline at the aspiration level. The purpose of this paper is to study possible curvilinear properties of performance feedback itself that may yield insight on the behavior of firms responding differently from the theory’s predictions. Design/methodology/approach The research uses data from exchange-listed German industrial firms followed from 2001 to 2015. It evaluates hypotheses using historical aspiration models with ROA as a measure of performance and with a spline specification. The fixed-effects panel data models serve as an estimation technique. Findings The research supports an inverted U-shape relationship between performance feedback and research and development (R&D) intensity for firms below their aspiration levels, and a U-shape relationship for firms above their aspiration levels. Originality/value The research is one of the first to directly study curvilinearity in performance feedback relationships. Arguably, there is no such a study directly focusing on a firm’s search as represented by R&D, despite the fact, that R&D forms the backbone of performance feedback research. Also, the population of German industrial firms is new in the literature.
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