Professor of Entrepreneurship
Associate Professor of Strategy
Performance Feedback; Prior Experience; Human Capital; Organizational Learning; Behavioral Theory of the Firm; Overconfidence; Microfoundations of Firm Behavior and Performance
In this study, the authors examine how the prior experiences of decision makers systematically influence their assessment of and responses to negative performance feedback.The authors posit that, although greater and more specialized experiences enable managers to build relevant knowledge and expertise in specific domains, they also make them overconfident in their abilities and strategies. Such experience-induced overconfidence further leads to distortions in the performance assessment process, hindering a firm’s ability to recognize and respond to poor performance.The authors empirically test these arguments in the context of U.S. mutual fund managers making investment decisions in response to fund performance below aspirations. As hypothesized, the authors find that more experienced and more specialized fund managers change their investment decisions less when faced with negative performance feedback than managers who are less experienced and less specialized.In additional analyses, the authors further show that the lower responsiveness of more experienced (specialized) managers is associated with the fund’s lower future performance, supporting their proposed theoretical mechanism (overconfidence).This study augments existing performance feedback research by showing how decision makers’ prior experience can impede problem-solving behavior in organizations. It also contributes to the literature on human capital and organizational learning by documenting an unintended consequence of accumulated human capital on firm adaptive behavior.