New Perspectives on the Role of Attributions in Entrepreneurship.

Date of Award

July 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises


Alexander McKelvie

Subject Categories



My dissertation seeks to explore some of the causes and consequences of managerial attributions for firm performance in the hope that it can shed light on the role of attributions in entrepreneurship. More specifically, I ask the following questions in each of the papers: What is the current state of research on managerial attributions for firm level outcomes and how can it contribute to future research (paper 1)? How do attributions for performance by the top management affect the extent to which firms engage in corporate entrepreneurship (paper 2)? How does being a family firm affect the way in which firm’s top management makes attributions for performance (paper 3)? Methodologically, I explore these questions in two ways. One, I conduct a theme-relevant review of prior attribution literature and two, I empirically capture the different types of attributions that are made for firm performance in the management discussion and analysis sections of firms’ annual reports. In doing so, my dissertation reveals the different ways in which attribution theory has been used to understand the antecedents, moderators and outcomes of attribution, and exemplifies the theory’s potential by looking at how it can help answer questions in entrepreneurship. I also show that attributions can capture the way in which the top management frames the future prospects of the firm and that in turn attributions moderate the relationship between slack and corporate entrepreneurship. Finally, I find that family firms attribute performance differently than non-family firms.


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