Where will the axe fall? An integrative framework for understanding attributions after a business failure

Joseph Amankwah-Amoah*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


This study aims to examine the types of attributions after a business failure. Although business failure has garnered a plethora of scholarly attention, there remains an ambiguity and a lack of clarity about the process and types of attribution after a business failure.

The paper is based on a synthesis of the multiple streams of research on the subject. This led to the development of an integrated framework of attributions after business failure.

The paper integrates the business failure literature and attribution theory to develop a 2 × 2 conceptual framework which accounts for not only the effect on pace (time) but also locus of causality in the attribution process. Crossing the two main causes of business failure with two types of attribution produces the 2 × 2 matrix of types of attribution after a business failure which includes early internal attribution, late internal attribution, early external attribution and late external attribution.

Research limitations/implications
The theorisation of the literature offers a number of implications for theory and practice.

The study also explains the underlying processes inherent in learning from others’ failures and consequences of business failure. The framework removes some of the ambiguity in the existing literature and outlines a number of fruitful avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-429
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Business Review
Volume 27
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2015


  • decision
  • business failure
  • attribution
  • organisational decision-makers


Dive into the research topics of 'Where will the axe fall? An integrative framework for understanding attributions after a business failure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this