The generativity mindsets of chief executive officers: A new perspective on succession outcomes

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8 Scopus citations


We apply the psychosocial concept of generativity, or one's outlook toward the next generation, to the context of chief executive officer (CEO) succession. Integrating prior research on generativity and CEO succession, we identify two key orthogonal dimensions of CEO generativity: (a) the CEO's degree of commitment to developing the next generation of company leadership and (b) the CEO's degree of need to control the succession process and outcome. A given CEO's place on these two dimensions constitutes their overall "generativity mindset," which we conceptualize as a relatively stable motivational orientation that stems from the CEO's disposition and accumulated life experiences. From these dimensions, we identify four archetypes: The generative, hypergenerative, hypo-generative, and anti-generative CEO. We then specify how the alternative archetypes affect an array of CEO actions throughout the CEO's tenure, especially the CEO's approach to assessing and developing executives for advancement. These various actions lay the foundation for eventual succession outcomes, particularly the nature of the succession and the origin and preparation of the selected successor. The final part of our model inserts the board of directors as a potentially moderating influence in all the foregoing relationships. We conclude with an overview of follow-on research opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-405
Number of pages21
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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