Department of Management


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Management, Vol. 48, No. 5 (May 2022), pp. 1270–1298.



Copyright © 2021 Titus, O’Brien, & Dixit. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Although organizational slack is a prominent construct in strategic management, it is often treated as an antecedent or enabler of other organizational outcomes, and thus our understanding of where slack comes from is underdeveloped. We draw on the behavioral theory of the firm to develop a better understanding about the antecedents of organizational slack. In so doing, we address a gap in the literature on the antecedents of slack by developing base models showing how and why performance feedback influences the three most common types of slack studied in the literature. Moreover, we contend that ownership is an important contingency that influences these relationships because different types of owners are motivated by different norms. Within a “communitarian” culture such as Japan, domestic owners generally have a multifaceted relationship with the firm and hence are motivated by norms of reciprocity and embeddedness, thereby allowing managers to adopt a stakeholder perspective. In contrast, foreign investors typically have only an arm’s-length relationship with the firm and are thus motivated by stock price, thereby putting “contractarian” pressures on managers to adopt a shareholder perspective. This domestic/foreign ownership distinction influences how resources are allocated and therefore the relationship between performance feedback and different types of slack in the firm. We further emphasize that these relationships will vary in accordance to where the slack resides: internal or external to the firm. We find general support for our hypotheses.