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Decision-making on the hot seat and the short list: Evidence from college football fourth down decisions

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  • Owens, Mark F.
  • Roach, Michael A.

Abstract

This study examines how career considerations influence risky decisions in the labor market for college football head coaches. We use historical data to predict, based on information available prior to the beginning of a given season, whether a coach will be fired or promoted after that season. Indices created from these models are used, along with other relevant data, to analyze the risky decision to attempt a fourth down conversion. We find that decision-making is sensitive to perceived job stability. Coaches who are more likely to be fired become more conservative, attempting fewer fourth down conversions. Conversely, coaches who are more likely to be promoted undertake more risk by attempting to convert more fourth downs. The result is that coaches with less job security are more likely to make decisions that are sub-optimal from the perspective of win-maximization.

Suggested Citation

  • Owens, Mark F. & Roach, Michael A., 2018. "Decision-making on the hot seat and the short list: Evidence from college football fourth down decisions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 301-314.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:148:y:2018:i:c:p:301-314
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.02.023
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lawrence Hadley & Marc Poitras & John Ruggiero & Scott Knowles, 2000. "Performance evaluation of National Football League teams," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 63-70.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Loss aversion; Football; Firing; Promotion; Herding; Fourth down;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • Z20 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics - - - General

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