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“Bouncing Back” From a Loss: Entrepreneurial Orientation, Emotions, and Failure Narratives


  • Marcus T. Wolfe,

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    • Marcus T. Wolfe is an Assistant Professor of Management at the Miller College of Business, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306, USA.
  • Dean A. Shepherd

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    • Dean A. Shepherd is the Randall L. Tobias Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.

  • We would like to thank Maw-Der Foo and two anonymous reviewers for their invaluable feedback on earlier versions of the manuscript.


In this study, we explore how failure in the form of the first lost game of the college football season for a team influences specific content within the narratives constructed regarding that loss and how those narratives are associated with subsequent performance. Building on theoretical perspectives regarding sports management, entrepreneurial orientation (EO), emotions, and the use of narratives for sensemaking, we develop and test an EO-related sports management model of failure narratives. Using computer-aided text analysis of transcripts from head coaches' press conferences directly following their team's first loss of the season as well as regression analysis, we found that the narrative's EO content has a U-shaped relationship with subsequent (i.e., next game) performance. Additionally, negative emotional content had a similar U-shaped relationship with subsequent performance. Finally, positive emotional content exhibited an inverse U-shaped relationship with subsequent performance. We discuss the implications of these results on the literatures regarding EO, emotions, and sports management as well as possible avenues for future research.

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