What Do You Have to Say about That? Performance Events and Narratives' Positive and Negative Emotional Content

By Wolfe, Marcus T.; Shepherd, Dean A. | Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, July 2015 | Go to article overview

What Do You Have to Say about That? Performance Events and Narratives' Positive and Negative Emotional Content


Wolfe, Marcus T., Shepherd, Dean A., Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice


The current study explores how the failure of innovative projects and positive organizational performance influence specific content within narratives. Building on theoretical perspectives regarding the sensemaking of failure events and emotions, we develop and test a performance event model of narratives. Using computer-aided text analysis of annual reports, we found that project failure rates have a positive relationship with narratives' negative emotional content. Additionally, narratives' positive emotional content is associated with reduced negative emotional content. Finally, positive organizational performance magnifies the negative association between narratives' positive and negative emotional content. We discuss the implications for these results on the literatures regarding the failure of entrepreneurial projects, narratives, and emotions.

**********

"We were disappointed that in late December the European Medicines Agency ('EMA') gave a negative opinion on the application [for a new drug to be made commercially available to treat brain cancer]." (Ark, 2009, p. 7)

Entrepreneurial initiatives within the corporate setting often involve higher risk or uncertainty than other projects (Deeds, DeCarolis, & Coombs, 2000) and therefore carry a greater likelihood of project failure (Corbett, Neck, & DeTienne, 2007). This is particularly true of innovative efforts, such as new product development (NPD) initiatives, undertaken by science-based organizations (Pisano, 2010). Science-based organizations are founded in areas in which basic technological feasibility is an important concern, so failure in innovative efforts becomes the norm rather than the exception (Pisano). Because of this, these organizations have a greater need to be able to effectively interpret, understand, and make sense of failures and to apply the knowledge they gain from such experiences to subsequent activities. Project failure can have beneficial effects. For example, it can facilitate a deeper understanding of the firm's overall situation (Popper & Lipshitz, 2000) and provide a source of learning that can ultimately improve firm performance (McGrath, 1999).

However, research also indicates that experiencing elevated levels of project failure can have decidedly negative effects as well (Shepherd, Wiklund, & Haynie, 2009) and that experiencing high levels of project failure can produce downward performance spirals (Lindsley, Brass, & Thomas, 1995) and eventually result in withdrawal from exploratory activities in lieu of less uncertain endeavors (March, 1991). Indeed, researchers have shown that high levels of project failure produce negative emotions for individuals involved in the failed projects similar to grief-like symptoms in those who have lost a loved one and that these emotions can obstruct learning (Shepherd, Patzelt, & Wolfe, 2011). In turn, these individual emotions can be transmitted to other members of the organization via a number of different mechanisms (e.g., emotional contagion [Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1992], vicarious affect [Bandura, 1986], affective influence [Ashkanasy & Tse, 2000], etc.), resulting in the formation of collective emotions, which influence work outcomes (Barsade, 2002; Dasborough, Ashkanasy, Tee, & Tse, 2009; Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1994). Given both the opportunity to learn from project failure as well as the obstacles to learning generated by project failure, it is important to understand how organizations make sense of project failure to increase the potential for project success in the future and to ultimately enhance performance. In this study, we specifically investigate how the rate of NPD failure is related to specific content dimensions included in an organization's narrative and how the modification of certain aspects of the narrative as a result of performance events reflects the sense-making of those events.

There is a well-established basis for using narratives in understanding organizational sense-making (Brown, Stacey, & Nandhakumar, 2008) and a growing movement interested in investigating messages contained within narratives from an entrepreneurial perspective (Fuller & Tian, 2006; Lounsbury & Glynn, 2001). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

What Do You Have to Say about That? Performance Events and Narratives' Positive and Negative Emotional Content
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.