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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1981

JAMES M. FRASHER and RAMONA S. FRASHER

It is hypothesized that the growing body of empirical data concerning the naive psychology of the assignment of cause — attribution theory — yields a substantial number of…

Abstract

It is hypothesized that the growing body of empirical data concerning the naive psychology of the assignment of cause — attribution theory — yields a substantial number of concepts which are logically assumed to offer significant potential insight into the administrative process. In order to stimulate the research necessary to test this hypothesis the existing research is presented and a theoretical formulation entitled Administrative Attribution Theory is offered. The structural framework of this conceptualization rests with five constructs: (1) asymmetry, i.e., attributions reflect a general positive bias; (2) concomitance, i.e., attributions vary with pre‐conditioned mind sets; (3) enhancement, i.e., attributions provide the individual psychological control of the environment; (4) process, i.e., the attributional process is highly generalizable, and (5) reconstruction, i.e., existing attributions may be altered through the manipulation of external variables. Examples of researchable questions are given to further facilitate field testing in educational administration.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 19 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 17 August 2021

Gabriel C.W. Gim, Say Keat Ooi, Siau Teng Teoh, Hui Ling Lim and Jasmine A.L. Yeap

Sustainable development concern, coupled with changes in the talent landscape, has led to a heightened focus on green human resource management (GHRM). Drawing on…

Abstract

Purpose

Sustainable development concern, coupled with changes in the talent landscape, has led to a heightened focus on green human resource management (GHRM). Drawing on attribution theory and conservation of resources theory, this study examined GHRM, leader–member exchange (LMX) and core self-evaluations (CSE) in relation to work engagement together with human resource management (HRM) performance attributions as a mediator.

Design/methodology/approach

Partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) was used to analyse the data collected from 110 respondents working in ISO 14001 certified organisations in Malaysia.

Findings

Results revealed that GHRM and LMX were positively related to HRM performance attributions that were intended to improve employee performance. However, CSE was not found to be related to HRM performance attributions. Consequently, HRM performance attributions were positively related to work engagement. Furthermore, GHRM and LMX had positive indirect effects on work engagement through HRM performance attributions as a mediator.

Research limitations/implications

Since the data collected were from Malaysia only, it limits the generalisability of the results to other regions.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that organisations should adopt GHRM and train its leaders to forge stronger social bonds with their subordinates to elicit higher work engagement by positively influencing employee attributions on the motives of HRM practices.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the acknowledged gap on GHRM and HRM attributions by examining the non-green employee outcomes of GHRM and the antecedents of HRM performance attributions. This study also contributes by integrating attribution theory with conservation of resources theory to provide the mediation mechanism in linking GHRM and LMX towards higher work engagement through HRM performance attributions as a mediator; thus empirically illustrating the resource gain spirals.

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Book part
Publication date: 29 July 2009

Patrick A. Palmieri and Lori T. Peterson

The Institute of Medicine's seminal report, To err is human: Building a safer health system, established the national patient safety framework and initiated interest in…

Abstract

The Institute of Medicine's seminal report, To err is human: Building a safer health system, established the national patient safety framework and initiated interest in changing the traditionally punitive healthcare culture. This paper reviews a multidisciplinary literature and offers an attribution framework to explicate the organizational processes that contribute to an industry-wide culture where clinicians are routinely blamed for adverse patient events. Attribution theory is concerned with the manner in which people explain the behaviors of others or themselves by assigning causality for events. To date, attribution theory, though well established in the management literature, has yet to be translated to healthcare. In this paper, we first describe the historical evolution of attribution theory in relation to human behavior in clinical practice and healthcare management and then discuss the work environments in contemporary healthcare organizations. Next, we demonstrate the applicability of attribution theory to healthcare by providing two adverse event exemplar cases. Then, the Healthcare Attribution Error Model is offered to demonstrate how concepts from attribution theory serve as antecedents to the employee cynicism, learned helplessness, organizational inertia, and the emerging Just Culture perspective. We conclude by suggesting attribution theory offers an important theoretical framework that warrants further conceptual development and empirical research. In the quest to produce exceptional healthcare environments where safety and quality are fundamental employee concerns, healthcare managers and clinical professionals need theoretically supported knowledge and evidence-based insights.

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Biennial Review of Health Care Management: Meso Perspective
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-673-7

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Article
Publication date: 11 September 2007

Yazdan Mansourian and Nigel Ford

This paper reports the findings of a study designed to explore web searchers' perceptions of the causes of their search failure and success. In particular, it seeks to…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper reports the findings of a study designed to explore web searchers' perceptions of the causes of their search failure and success. In particular, it seeks to discover the extent to which the constructs locus of control and attribution theory might provide useful frameworks for understanding searchers' perceptions.

Design/methodology/approach

A combination of inductive and deductive approaches were employed. Perceptions of failed and successful searches were derived from the inductive analysis of using open‐ended qualitative interviews with a sample of 37 biologists at the University of Sheffield. These perceptions were classified into “internal” and “external” attributions, and the relationships between these categories and “successful” and “failed” searches were analysed deductively to test the extent to which they might be explainable using locus of control and attribution theory interpretive frameworks.

Findings

All searchers were readily able to recall “successful” and “unsuccessful” searches. In a large majority of cases (82.4 per cent), they clearly attributed each search to either internal (e.g. ability or effort) or external (e.g. luck or information not being available) factors. The pattern of such relationships was analysed, and mapped onto those that would be predicted by locus of control and attribution theory. The authors conclude that the potential of these theoretical frameworks to illuminate one's understanding of web searching, and associated training, merits further systematic study.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based on a relatively small sample of academic and research staff in a particular subject area. Importantly, also, the study can at best provide a prima facie case for further systematic study since, although the patterns of attribution behaviour accord with those predictable by locus of control and attribution theory, data relating to the predictive elements of these theories (e.g. levels of confidence and achievement) were not available. This issue is discussed, and recommendations made for further work.

Originality/value

The findings provide some empirical support for the notion that locus of control and attribution theory might – subject to the limitations noted above – be potentially useful theoretical frameworks for helping us better understand web‐based information seeking. If so, they could have implications particularly for better understanding of searchers' motivations, and for the design and development of more effective search training programmes.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 63 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article
Publication date: 14 January 2021

Shih Yung Chou, Katelin Barron and Charles Ramser

Drawing upon conservation of resources (COR) and attribution theories, prior research in helping behavior has mainly focused on an independent view of the helper’s…

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing upon conservation of resources (COR) and attribution theories, prior research in helping behavior has mainly focused on an independent view of the helper’s personal resources. This perspective, however, falls short of capturing the comparative nature of personal resources and attributions in a helping context. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to develop a theoretical model that helps predict employees’ decisions to help or not to help.

Design/methodology/approach

A theoretical model was developed by integrating social comparison, COR and attribution theories.

Findings

The theoretical model proposes the following. First, when employees perceive that they have fewer personal resources than a coworker who needs help, they are less likely to help. Second, when employees perceive that they have more personal resources than a coworker who needs help, they make causal attributions as to why the coworker failed to deploy personal resources. Finally, when employees have more personal resources than a coworker who needs help, they are more likely to help if they make situational, unstable and uncontrollable attributions to the coworker’s failure to deploy personal resources.

Originality/value

This paper extends the literature by offering a theoretical model that emphasizes comparisons and attributions of personal resources in a helping context. Additionally, this paper offers several managerial implications that help managers manage helping behavior effectively.

Details

Management Research Review, vol. 44 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8269

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Article
Publication date: 13 June 2008

C. Lakshman

The purpose of this paper is to develop a positive and functional attributional model of leadership, using both leadership perceptions and leadership effectiveness as…

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4758

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop a positive and functional attributional model of leadership, using both leadership perceptions and leadership effectiveness as criteria. Drawing from cognitive complexity theory, and attributional complexity theory, this article identifies attributional accuracy of managers as the fundamental component of the functional model developed here. The model of leadership developed here focuses on such key leadership constructs as leader information processing using complex schemata, leader attributions and their accuracy, leader behaviors that follow their attributions, mediating variables such as subordinate self‐efficacy, satisfaction, and motivation, and outcome variables such as leadership perceptions and subordinate performance. These variables are linked in a process model.

Design/methodology/approach

The article depends on a critical review of the literature to build a theoretical model consistent with theory building guidelines.

Findings

Accurate attributions and the avoidance of attributional biases are identified as key factors determining effectiveness and leadership perceptions. Leader interactive behaviors, feedback latency, and the development of strategies for improving performance are identified as key consequences of attributional accuracy.

Practical implications

This article has implications for the ways in which managers are selected and trained to provide leadership in organizations.

Orginality/value

The theory developed here breaks new ground in the investigation of the positive and functional attributional processes of leaders leading to organizational or unit effectiveness. This research contributes to knowledge by pointing to the functional role of accurate attributions and the delineation of the processes through which such attributions can lead to enhancing subordinate motivation and hence leadership effectiveness.

Details

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7739

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Book part
Publication date: 5 October 2018

Boas Shamir

This paper reviews and compares six theoretical explanations of the effects of charismatic leaders on their followers. Of the six explanations two are based on…

Abstract

This paper reviews and compares six theoretical explanations of the effects of charismatic leaders on their followers. Of the six explanations two are based on psychoanalytic theory, two on attribution theory, one on a sociological theory of symbolic centers, and one on the social psychology of the self-concept. The review exposes differences among the explanations in their motivational assumptions, their predictions regarding leader behaviors and effects on followers, and the mediating mechanisms they posit between leader behaviors and effects on followers. The most critical differences are highlighted and suggested as foci of future research on charismatic leadership.

Details

Leadership Now: Reflections on the Legacy of Boas Shamir
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-200-0

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Article
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Suhana Moehl and Barry A. Friedman

This study aims to explore how consumers judge corporate social responsibility (CSR) authenticity. Kelley’s covariation attribution theory (Kelley, 1973) was deployed to…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore how consumers judge corporate social responsibility (CSR) authenticity. Kelley’s covariation attribution theory (Kelley, 1973) was deployed to explain information consumers use that leads to either a substantive or symbolic attribution.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 101 consumers were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions and responded to an online survey: an organization whose CSR practices were unique (low consensus), across their business (low distinctiveness) and over time (high consistency), practiced CSR like competitors (high consensus), in few areas if their business (high distinctiveness) and just initiated their CSR activities (low consistency) or no relevant CSR information (control). The dependent variables were consumer’s substantive attribution, symbolic attribution and the extent that consumers’ reported that consensus, distinctiveness and consistency were important in judging CSR authenticity in general. ANOVA and Scheffe post hoc tests were conducted as appropriate.

Findings

Consumers in the first experimental condition ascribed greater substantive attribution than consumers in the control group and marginality more than the second experimental condition. On the other hand, these same consumers also ascribed greater symbolic attribution than did the control group. After consumers were shown an organization whose CSR activities were unique, practiced across their business and for a long time reported that distinctiveness and consistency were more important in judging authenticity in general.

Research limitations/implications

The survey respondents constituted a convenience sample; however, they were randomly assigned to conditions. This randomization enabled an experimental design capable of making causal statements. The Linkedin platform is mainly used by white-collar individuals and does not incorporate the entire spectrum of airline passengers from other industries, and therefore, may limit generalizability to other industrial sector populations. The sample age was somewhat young and may not be representative of older individuals and young teenagers. Like all online surveys, individuals without internet access did not have an opportunity to participate. Future research should deploy larger sample sizes and greater demographic diversity (e.g. age, country and income).

Practical implications

Executives must lead and engage stakeholders in their organizations’ CSR initiatives. Managers must implement efficiently, using CSR audits that assess the extent that unique initiatives are implemented throughout the business and over time. The findings also suggest that marketing should then effectively communicate CSR in consensus, distinctiveness and consistency terms.

Social implications

Multiple stakeholders urge organizations to be socially responsible. Consumers incorporate social responsibility into buying and investment decisions, and therefore, expect to demand CSR transparency and authenticity. Unfortunately, little is known about how consumers assess CSR authenticity, which is the aim of this research.

Originality/value

This is among the first studies that generalize Kelley’s covariation attribution theory from the micro-level of individual perception and social psychology to the macro organizational level and the first to empirically test the theory at the macro organizational level. This study used an experimental design to test attribution theory as a theoretic explanation of how consumers judge CSR authenticity and the first study to explore whether exposure to CSR information influences the extent that such information is believed to be important in judging authenticity.

Details

Social Responsibility Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-1117

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Article
Publication date: 28 October 2014

Falk Tennert

The purpose of this paper is to use an attributional approach to examine press coverage in Germany dealing with Toyota’s 2010 global product recall due to purportedly…

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2306

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to use an attributional approach to examine press coverage in Germany dealing with Toyota’s 2010 global product recall due to purportedly defective brakes. The research focuses on the attributions of cause and responsibility and, thereby, the practices of media-brokered selection and interpretation of events.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodology used is a quantitative content analysis of selected German print media. Corporate reporting is analysed with the help of attribution theory approaches from the field of psychology, which, when applied to public relations themes, thereby enables the identification of latent and manifest risk factors that emerge from the perceived responsibility of the media.

Findings

Causal attributions are an essential aspect of coverage in acute crisis situations. The key findings show a dominance of internal attributions of responsibility in which the media interprets the crisis as self inflicted and ascribes a high level of fault on the company. Exonerating attributions according to a self-serving bias find little resonance in the coverage. The responsibility attributed to Toyota by the media coverage to a sustained damage to the company’s reputation.

Originality/value

The study demonstrates that attribution theory can be productively applied to questions of communication management. This approach enables an analysis of attribution discourse as well as the potential long-term effects on the company’s reputation. Thus, the original value of this study lies in the psychological foundation of organisational risk and opportunity.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 18 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article
Publication date: 13 April 2015

H. Kristl Davison and Jack Smothers

The purpose of this paper is to propose that the Theory X style of management arose from a fundamental attribution error, in which managers assumed that employees’ lack of…

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2682

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose that the Theory X style of management arose from a fundamental attribution error, in which managers assumed that employees’ lack of motivation was a disposition rather than a function of unmotivating work situations.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews the nature of work during the industrial revolution from a Job Characteristics Model perspective and compares Theory X and Theory Y perspectives in terms of their emphasis on dispositional or situational influences on behavior.

Findings

It was found that factory work performed during the industrial revolution was likely to be deficient in terms of the five core dimensions of the Job Characteristics Model, and would have been unmotivating. Because of the fundamental attribution error, managers would have assumed that workers were unmotivated by nature, but the situation was likely the cause of their lack of motivation.

Practical implications

As illustrated by our findings, management theory development and interpretation can benefit from understanding the historical context within which the theory was developed. Considering both situational and person (i.e. individual differences or traits) effects is particularly important for theory development.

Originality/value

The unique contribution of this paper is to make the connection between the characteristics of work performed during the industrial revolution and consequent inaccurate managerial attributions of worker motivation (i.e. Theory X).

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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