A management lesson from last-minute goals

Researchers looked at football matches to see how teams respond to success and setbacks.

by Stephen Jones

Being able to recover from setbacks matters. Not every product a company releases is guaranteed to be a bestseller. Projects overrun and sometimes money and time are wasted. The effect can be demoralising and frustrating, but the most agile companies have cultures that enable staff to learn from the failure and move on to the next project. 

Do some setbacks have a bigger emotional impact on teams than others? Take for example a late goal in football. There has long been a view among some football insiders that a goal scored just before the half time break will have a bigger impact on subsequent performance than goals scored earlier in the half, because there is less time for the opposition to react, and because there is an emotional cost to stewing on the goal during the break. 

A study led by INSEAD Professor of Entrepreneurship Henrich Greve looked at the results of 72,426 European and American association football league fixtures for which betting data could be gathered to see if an advantage could be identified. 

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