Search, Reactive and Proactive: Theory and Behavioral Evidence on the Roles of Trailing Aspirations and Performance Stability

Posted: 7 Jun 2017 Last revised: 9 Mar 2022

See all articles by Sheen S. Levine

Sheen S. Levine

University of Texas at Dallas; Columbia University

Felix Mauersberger

University of Bonn

Charlotte Reypens

University of Texas at Dallas - Department of Organizations, Strategy & International Management

Christoph Riedl

Northeastern University - D’Amore-McKim School of Business

Date Written: February 4, 2021

Abstract

Search is fundamental to managers and firms alike, but the processes that underlie it remain untested or contested. We join the effort to uncover the micro-processes of search with a multimethod approach, combining qualitative evidence, behavioral simulations, and a preregistered experiment (n=4,750 decisions by 1,693 participants). We confirm a central assumption: Individuals increase exploration when trailing aspirations. Yet we also theorize that exploratory search can be not only reactive — but also proactive. We show that when searchers experience ongoing performance stability, they broaden exploration. The theory and evidence carry implications to our discussions of exploration–exploitation, risk, mental models, and the links between the individual and the organizational.

Keywords: Exploration, exploitation, performance, feedback, individual, experiment

Suggested Citation

Levine, Sheen S. and Mauersberger, Felix and Reypens, Charlotte and Riedl, Christoph, Search, Reactive and Proactive: Theory and Behavioral Evidence on the Roles of Trailing Aspirations and Performance Stability (February 4, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2816541

Sheen S. Levine (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas ( email )

2601 North Floyd Road
Richardson, TX 75083
United States

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Felix Mauersberger

University of Bonn ( email )

Bonn
Germany

Charlotte Reypens

University of Texas at Dallas - Department of Organizations, Strategy & International Management ( email )

800 West Campbell Road
SM 43
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
United States

Christoph Riedl

Northeastern University - D’Amore-McKim School of Business ( email )

360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.christophriedl.net

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