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27: Decision-Making Implications of Multiple Goals and Aspirations (Vibha Gaba)


Although it is well established that organizational decision-makers consider an array of goals

when making choices and that juggling multiple goals is an essential part of organizational

life, the empirical research’s disproportionate focus on singular performance goals and aspirations has supplanted A Behavioral Theory of the Firm’s original notions of multiple

goals and has hindered the theoretical treatment of adaptive behavior amidst multiple goals and performance aspirations.

In this session, using some empirical work, we will discuss plausible ways organizational and

strategy scholars can better understand the decision-making implications of pursuing

multiple goals.

Prerecorded session


Live session

Required readings

Gaba, V., Greve, H. 2019. “Safe or Profitable? The Pursuit of Conflicting Goals” Organization Science, 30(4): 647-867.

Joseph, J., Gaba, V. 2015. “The Fog of Feedback: Ambiguity and Firm Responses to Multiple Aspiration-Levels.” Strategic Management Journal, 36(13): 1960–1978.

Gaba, V., Joseph, J. 2013. “Corporate Structure and Performance Feedback: Aspirations and Adaptation in M-Form Firms.” Organization Science, 24(4): 1102-1119.

Discussion questions

The above papers provide some insights on how goal prioritization is achieved in organizations. Consider an empirical setting where multiple goals are salient. What plausible mechanisms can help us understand why some goals receive more attention than others in this setting? How can we test it?

Recent studies argue that understanding how performance feedback on multiple goals is interpreted and given meaning is important to understanding how organizations make decisions. What are the sources of interpretive differences when pursuing multiple goals? What is the best methodological approach to study this question?

Optional Readings

Gaba, V., & Joseph, J. (2023). Content and process: organizational conflict and decision making. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, 1227966.

Levinthal DA, Rerup C (2021) The plural of goal: Learning in a world of ambiguity. Organization Science 32(3):527-543.

Group members

Faculty advisors

  • TBD


  • TBD

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