Great Successes and Great Failures: The Impact of Project Leader Status on Project Performance and Performance Extremeness

Balazs Szatmari*, Dirk Deichmann, Jan van den Ende, Brayden G. King

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Research supporting the Matthew effect demonstrates that high-status actors experience performance benefits due to increased recognition of their work and greater opportunities and resources, but recent research also indicates that high-status actors face a greater risk of negative performance evaluations. In this paper, we seek to contribute to the status literature by reconciling these findings and ask: To what extent does status influence heterogeneity in performance evaluations? We explore how project leader status affects the performance of innovation projects in the video game industry. We hypothesize that there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between project leader status and project performance, and a positive relationship between project leader status and performance extremeness (i.e., performance variation). In order to test our hypotheses, we analysed the performance of video game projects and computed the status of project leaders by applying a project affiliation social network analysis. We find that an intermediate level of status – neither too much nor too little – is positively associated with average project performance. We also reveal more extreme performance effects for high-status leaders: While some achieve superior project performance, others experience significant project failures. We, therefore, provide important theoretical and practical insights regarding how status affects the implementation of innovations. We also discuss the implications of these findings for the literature on middle-status conformity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1267-1293
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • innovation
  • project performance
  • social network analysis
  • status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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