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Explanations of success and failure in management learning: what can we learn from Nokia's rise and fall?

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/03/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Academy of Management Learning and Education
Issue number1
Volume15
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)2-25
Publication statusPublished
Early online date6/01/15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

We study the changing explanations of success and failure over the course of a firm’s history, building on a discursive approach that highlights the role of narrative attributions in making sense of corporate performance. Specifically, we analyze how the Nokia Corporation was framed first as a success and later as a failure and how these dimensions of performance were explained in various actors’ narrative accounts. In both the success and failure accounts, our analysis revealed a striking black-and-white picture that resulted in the institutionalization of Nokia’s metanarratives of success and failure. Our findings also reveal a number of discursive attributional tendencies, and thus, warn of the cognitive and politically motivated biases that are likely to characterize management literature.