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To Change or Not to Change: How Regulatory Focus Affects Change in Dyadic Decision-Making

Authors/Editors: Spanjol, J.
Tam, L.
Published: 2010
Type: Articles in Refereed Journals (International)
ISBN/ISSN: 1467-8691
Published by: Creativity and Innovation Management, 19 (4), 346-363


Successful innovation requires teams to embrace and enact change. However, team members often differ in their preferences for change. We examine how regulatory focus affects dyadic teams’ tendencies to enact change across an array of repeated brand management decisions. Understanding such tendencies is important, since the innovation process is characterized by a series of investment decisions typically made by teams, yet prone to significant biases. Regulatory focus theory provides a framework for understanding the dominant motivations driving decision-making during goal pursuit. It argues that individuals operate under either a promotion or prevention focus, influencing preferences for stability vs. change. We develop a set of hypotheses regarding regulatory focus match vs. mismatch in teams and their effects on the relative tendency to enact change in decision-making. In the context of dyads involved in a complex management simulation consisting of multiple decision cycles, we empirically demonstrate that a promotion focus match is associated with greater levels of change in decisions than a prevention focus match, regardless of the type of goal pursuit strategy prescribed to dyads. Under regulatory focus mismatch, however, dyads are guided by the goal pursuit strategy (vigilant vs. eager) provided to them, which in turn informs their propensity to implement change.

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