The Paradox of Stretch Goals: Organizations in Pursuit of the Seemingly Impossible
Academy of Management Review, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 544–566, July 2011
23 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2010 Last revised: 3 Aug 2011
Date Written: October 26, 2010
We investigate the organizational pursuit of seemingly impossible goals - commonly known as stretch goals. Building from our analysis of the mechanisms through which stretch goals could influence organizational learning and performance, we offer a contingency framework evaluating which organizations are positioned to benefit from such extreme goals, and which are most likely to pursue them. We conclude that stretch goals are, paradoxically, most seductive for organizations that can least afford the risks associated with them.
Keywords: organizational learning, performance, organizational goals, stretch goals, organizational cognition, exploratory search, change, innovation, risk taking
JEL Classification: A10, D2, D23, D83, L2, L20, L21, M1, M10, M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation