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The role of performance feedback consistency in aspiration level adaptation: Evidence from a European grocery retailer
Journal of General Management  (IF),  Pub Date : 2019-09-06, DOI: 10.1177/0306307019849764
Burak Cem Konduk

This study investigates whether and how the impact of drivers of aspiration levels changes across the cases of consistent and inconsistent performance feedback within the context of a retailer. Analysis of internal corporate data shows that while past aspiration level and performance–aspiration gap positively influence the current aspiration level in the case of inconsistent feedback, performance feedback consistency changes only the impact of performance relative to peers. This study replicates past research in a different industry and country due to limited empirical evidence, introduces real-world complexity into aspiration theory, pinpoints performance–aspiration gap as the primary performance feedback, introduces a new sign for the impact of performance relative to peers, and reconciles its previously detected mixed impact. The findings suggest that organizational attention has an inward focus in the case of inconsistent feedback. The results also point out that leaders can trigger change through a performance outcome that lags behind the corresponding aspiration level rather than the performance of peers and eventually move their organizations toward high performance targets by starting with feasible rather than stretch goals.