Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > A Behavioral Perspective on Attention Allocation Among Multiple Goals: An Exploratory Examination of the Automotive Industry

Goals (aspirations) and attention allocation are of considerable interest in practice, in strategic theory, and in research on a behavioral theory of the firm. Empirical studies of the allocation of attention to goals have been limited to two or fewer goals where sequential attention to goals is either not an issue or obvious. The exploratory research discussed in this dissertation is concerned with attention allocation when there are more than two goals. Here sequential attention is ambiguous regarding what goal to which attention should be shifted when the current focal goal is satisfied. Relying on the combination of multiple statistical methods including panel vector autoregression, ordinary least squares regression, and hierarchical linear regression, I test the long-run interplay of and attention allocation among three product goals (car fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability) using a large dataset from the US automotive industry from 1980 to 2009. Major results involve the complexity of shifting attention among goals, issues raised by the correlation structure among multiple goals, and the context dependence of attention shifts. These results suggest the necessity of a substantial modification of the theory of attention allocation. Conjectures are discussed regarding aspects of a new theory of attention allocation for more than two goals in the presence of interdependency.