A Longitudinal Exploration of Strategic Isomorphism: The Case of the National Football League

Kenneth York, Cynthia Miree


The purpose of the current study is to examine the phenomenon known as strategic isomorphism within a longitudinal context.   In particular, this research looks at performance data within the National Football League (NFL) across fifty-three NFL seasons to determine if the NFL had isomorphic characteristics (as measured by the presence of competitive balance).  We propose two hypotheses relating to the presence of competitive balance in the NFL, and found support for both hypotheses.  In testing for presence of competitive balance in the NFL, we found a low standard deviation in winning percentage across teams in the seasons 1960-2012, indicating that the NFL has been a league of teams of nearly equal strength.  From a longitudinal perspective we found that the NFL has not been dominated by a few strong teams that win most of the championships.  Further, no single NFL team has been able to maintain dominance across multiple seasons. Finally, winning percentage also proves to be only a moderate predictor of winning percentage in the following season, and a progressively poorer predictor for subsequent seasons.  The current study is one of very few longitudinal studies that examine strategic isomorphism within a competitive context.  It provides evidence that managers perceive achieving homogeneity among competitors to be an appropriate strategic choice under certain competitive conditions.


Institutional Theory, Strategic Isomorphism, Competitive Balance

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11634/216796061706610

American Journal of Business and Management

ISSN 2167-9606  eISSN 2167-9614 //OCLC: 794280070

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