Pilot, Pivot and Advisory Boards: The Role of Governance Configurations in Innovation Commitment

Eduardo Schiehll, Krista B. Lewellyn, Maureen I. Muller-Kahle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


This study examines how governance configurations comprised of board capital, CEO power and the presence of large shareholders are associated with innovation commitment in organizations. We take a configurational perspective, proposing that organizational innovation commitment is contingent upon how interdependent governance attributes associated with monitoring and resource provisioning can either enhance or constrain management’s discretion to invest in research and development (R&D). Using fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA), we identify complementarities which lead to three board archetypes that foster firm innovation commitment. ‘Pilot boards’ have both board capital breadth and depth allowing for active and close participation in innovation decision-making. ‘Pivot boards’ possess the depth of industry-specific expertise and linkages required for providing resources and oversight of powerful CEOs. And ‘advisory boards’ have less power but have outside directors who have breadth of expertise and relational capital that complements the oversight provided by powerful family owners so as to effectively advise management on innovation decisions. Our findings underscore that governance mechanisms work in tandem, not in isolation, to explain significant organizational outcomes, specifically those associated with innovation commitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1449-1472
Number of pages24
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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