Year of Publication

2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Management

First Advisor

Dr. Walter J. Ferrier

Abstract

Extant research within competitive dynamics recognizes a positive relationship between high levels of competitive activity and firm performance, but the cognitive and psychological antecedents to competitive activity are far less clearly understood. I explore the role of a specific psychological antecedent - status, in impacting firms’ motivations to launch competitive moves against rivals. The key question, which extant literature does not seem fully equipped to answer, is when and under exactly what circumstances lower-status firms become motivated to launch action against higher-status ones and vice-versa. I use the stimulus-response model in social cognition to build theory which helps to answer the question by considering structural properties of market engagement. The specific structural property of market engagement that I focus on is market commonality, or the extent to which a rival is a significant player in markets important to a focal firm. I predict that a rival’s market commonality with a focal firm and its status relative to the focal firm have independent and positive effects on the extent to which the focal firm pays attention to the rival, that a rival’s market commonality with a focal firm and its status relative to the focal firm interact negatively to predict the focal firm’s motivation to launch action against that rival, and that a rival’s relative status and market commonality with a focal firm interact positively to predict the extent to which the focal firm pays attention to the rival. I test theory through a field study on gourmet food trucks in Lexington and an experiment through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk tool. Results provide broad support for the hypotheses. Three consequences follow from my study – that high-status firms are likely to come under attack from lower-status firms with whom they do not compete in markets, that they are unlikely to be paying attention to those lower-status firms when first attacked, and that they are likely to become aware of and motivated to act against those lower-status firms only after the lower-status firms have occupied key markets. My study contributes to the literatures in competitive dynamics, status, multi-market contact, and entrepreneurial action.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2018.286

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