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Abstract

Similar to practices in top management positions worldwide, there has been an increasing tendency in recent decades to fire
football managers when the team does not perform to the stakeholders’ expectations. Previous research has suggested that improvements
after change of manager are a statistical artefact. Based on 12 years of data from the Norwegian Premier League, we conduct
a natural experiment showing what would have taken place if the manager had not been fired. In this case, the performance
might have improved just as well and even quicker. Building on theories in expertise and decision making, we explore the data
and argue that decision makers may be fooled by randomness and learn wrong lessons about team leadership. Our analyses support
a post-heroic view of team leadership as an emergent, output variable. Exaggerated focus on the individual manager may ruin
long-term performance. Practical implications are discussed.

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Heroic leadership illusions in football teams: Rationality, decision making and noise-signal ratio in the firing of football managers
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