Top executive commitment to the status quo: Some tests of its determinants

Donald C. Hambrick, Marta A. Geletkanycz, James W. Fredrickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

766 Scopus citations


Some top executives are more committed to the status quo—particularly to their organization's current strategy and leadership profile—than are others. Most empirical research on upper echelons treats psychological phenomena as a ‘black box’—the unobserved intervening mechanisms—that causes associations between more observable executive characteristics and organizational outcomes. In contrast, this paper attempts to directly examine the determinants of an important element of an executive's psychological orientation—commitment to the status quo (CSQ). We focus on a select set of variables which have been posited in prior research as determinants of executive CSQ, but which have not been directly tested for such a relationship. Based on a large‐scale survey methodology, results suggest that an executive's tenure in an industry is a pronounced determinant of CSQ, and has significantly more impact than organizational tenure. As expected, the firm's current performance was found to be positively related to CSQ; this relationship was stronger in high‐discretion than in low‐discretion industries. Finally, the project reaffirms a well known human tendency: incumbent CEOs tend to believe that their eventual successors should be just like them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-418
Number of pages18
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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