Project

Back to overview

An Ecological Perspective on the Antecedents to and on the Consequences of the Top Management Team Diversity

English title An Ecological Perspective on the Antecedents to and on the Consequences of the Top Management Team Diversity
Applicant Wezel Filippo Carlo
Number 135313
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Istituto Media e Giornalismo Facoltà di Scienze della comunicazione Università della Svizzera italiana
Institution of higher education Università della Svizzera italiana - USI
Main discipline Science of management
Start/End 01.04.2011 - 31.03.2013
Approved amount 112'704.00
Show all

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
The present proposal is the continuation of the work performed under the current grant, which focuses on the triggers of top management team (TMT) diversity. Three main limitations of the pertinent literature have been highlighted. First, demographic research has relied on samples of organizations belonging to different industries and on cross-sectional research designs. Second, recognizing entrances and exits of managers as key triggers of tenure heterogeneity would allow to better capture the relation between TMT diversity and organizational performance. Third, the focus on internal processes reduced the attention to the broader context within which the organization is embedded (i.e., to its environment). The present proposal aims at exploring the antecedents and the consequences of TMT diversity. The ASA (Schneider, 1987) and the organization demography approach (Pfeffer, 1983) while dealing with different levels of analysis (i.e., the individual and the organization), and theoretical bases (i.e., psychology and sociology), they tend to converge in claiming that organizations become internally homogeneous over time. But as employees have a clear preference for similar others, under which conditions heterophilous reproduction will be favoured and become beneficial for performance? Despite numerous calls, we still do not know much about the antecedents of TMT composition (for a few exceptions see Keck and Tushman, 1993; Haveman, 1995; Boone et al., 2004; Boeker and Wiltbank, 2005). Moreover, a substantial disagreement about the effects of TMT diversity on organizational performance does exist (see e.g., Nielsen, 2009 for a review). In particular, few studies have pointed to the environment as a critical moderator of the relation between TMT diversity and performance (e.g., Keck, 1997; Eisenhardt and Schoonoven, 1990), but employing static considerations to justify its effects (Beckman and Burton, 2010). The project aims at addressing these limitations and at exploring the role of contextual variables -- both at the organizational and at the industry level -- as  critical antecedents and moderators of the consequences of TMT diversity for firm performance.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Taking off: categorical contrast and organizational mortality in the UK passenger airline industry, 1919-1964
Kuilman J. and Wezel F.C. (2013), Taking off: categorical contrast and organizational mortality in the UK passenger airline industry, 1919-1964, in Stategic Organization, 11, 56-77.
Running in packs or going solo? A dynamic theory of strategic positioning
Boone C. Wezel F.C. and van Witteloostuijn A., Running in packs or going solo? A dynamic theory of strategic positioning, in Journal of Business Venturing.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
EGOS conference 2012 04.07.2012 Helsinki (Finland)
Swiss Strategy, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Researchers 22.03.2012 Stechelberg
27th EGOS Colloquium 08.07.2011 Gothenburg
Swiss Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (swissSIER) workshop 06.02.2011 Gstaad


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Lo sciamano in bicicletta RSI Italian-speaking Switzerland 10.06.2011
Media relations: print media, online media Ticino scienza Italian-speaking Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
122236 Networks of Influence: within and between firms impact of upper echelon's mobility 01.02.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The present proposal is the continuation of the work performed under the current grant, which focuses on inter-firm mobility as a trigger of changes in top management team (TMT) diversity. Three main limitations of the existing literature have been advanced so far. First, demographic research has relied on samples of organizations belonging to different industries and on cross-sectional research designs. Second, recognizing entrances and exits of managers as key triggers of tenure heterogeneity would allow to better capture the relation between TMT diversity and organizational performance. Third, the focus on internal processes reduced the attention to the broader context within which the organization is embedded (i.e., to its environment). By and large, the empirical results obtained from the current grant suggest that a dynamic and multi-level modelling of top management teams is essential to understand the consequences of TMT diversity for long term organizational performance (see Pennings and Wezel, 2010). During the last year, the PhD student hired on the current project (i.e., Chanchal Balachandran) has also elaborated on the drivers of employee mobility with particular attention to environmental dynamics. One chapter of his dissertation deals with this matter. The results of this paper suggest the importance of ecological variables (e.g., number of organizational foundings and failures and organizational diversity) for the number of mobility events observed in the Dutch auditing industry. The present proposal aims at illustrating the other chapters of Chanchal’s dissertation which move to the organizational level and reflect on the antecedents and the consequences of TMT diversity. When dealing with the antecedents of mobility, the ASA (Schneider, 1987) and the organization demography approach (Pfeffer, 1983) are natural benchmarks. While dealing with different levels of analysis (i.e., the individual and the organization), and theoretical home-base (i.e., psychology and sociology), both approaches claim that organizations become internally homogeneous over time. But as employees have a clear preference for similar others, under which conditions heterophilous reproduction will be favoured and become beneficial for performance? Despite numerous calls, we still do not know much about the antecedents of TMT composition (for a few exceptions see Keck and Tushman, 1993; Haveman, 1995; Boone et al., 2004; Boeker and Wiltbank, 2005). Moreover, a substantial disagreement about the effects of TMT diversity on organizational performance does exist (see e.g., Nielsen, 2009 for a review). In particular, few studies have pointed to the environment as a critical moderator of the relation between TMT diversity and performance (e.g., Keck, 1997; Eisenhardt and Schoonoven, 1990), but employing static considerations to justify its effects (Beckman and Burton, 2010). The two remaining chapters of Chanchal’s dissertation aim at addressing these limitations and at exploring the role of environmental dynamics -- and in particular of legitimation and competition (see Hannan and Freeman, 1989; Carroll and Hannan, 2000) - for the study of the antecedents and of the performance consequences of TMT diversity. The information collected on the Dutch accounting sector across different levels of analyses - i.e., managers, organizations and the population as a whole - continue to serve as the testing ground for the propositions advanced.
-