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Article: Self-serving bias in the immediate analysis of a failure: the case of Ligue 1’s coaches

Julien CUSIN


Managerial mainstream press regularly highlights the positive virtues of learning from failure. Despite a growing interest in this emerging field of research (Carmeli, 2007), the literature in management has so far not led to empirically support this thesis. Instead, the main works on this topic (Baumard et Starbuck, 2005 ; Cannon et Edmondson, 2005 ; Carmeli et Schaubroeck, 2008) have strongly nuanced the myth of learning from failure. In this research, we propose to study, in depth, a supposed cause of non-learning – the self-serving bias (Miller et Ross, 1975) – and to verify its existence empirically. Furthermore, we seek to explore the relationship between self-indulgence of individuals and the performance of the organization. We also study how this bias occurs over time. To this end, we chose to analyze the discourse of football coaches (Ligue 1), at a press conference on the evening of a defeat during the 2010-2011 season. Ultimately, our manuscript reveals several interesting theoretical results. First, the existence of a self-serving bias is not confirmed in this article. In addition, we show that the least self-indulgent people are not those who ultimately get the best results on the collective level. Finally, we emphasize the importance of social context in the retrospective analysis of a failure. In contrast, we show that the accumulation of failures in time and stressful situations do not increase the self-serving bias.

The author

Maître de Conférences en sciences de gestion, il dirige le master 2 Management des ressources humaines par apprentissage à l'IAE de Bordeaux IAE de Bordeaux, IRGO – ERM, 35. Julien Cusin est ancien élève de l’École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, Agrégé du secondaire d’économie gestion et docteur ès sciences de gestion (CREPA, Université Paris-Dauphine). Actuellement Maître de conférences à l’IAE de Bordeaux et membre de l’erm/IRGO, il a été lauréat du prix de thèse Gaëtan Pirou 2007 en sciences économiques et gestion. Il s’intéresse notamment aux processus d’acquisition de connaissance par l’échec. Auteur de Faut-il échouer pour réussir ?, Julien Cusin analyse la façon dont est vécu l’échec dans le monde professionnel et sa stigmatisation où il s'intéresse notamment à l'apprentissage par l'échec. Il dit l’importance d’intégrer l’échec dans le parcours scolaire et universitaire.



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