Rookies and seasoned recruits: How experience in different levels, firms, and industries shapes strategic renewal in top management

Research paper by Charles Williams, Pao‐Lien Chen, Rajshree Agarwal

Indexed on: 29 Oct '16Published on: 28 Oct '16Published in: Strategic Management Journal


Research summary: This study explores the effect of knowledge integration on strategic renewal. In particular, it examines how executives from different levels and sources influence renewal when added to top management teams (TMT). In contrast to prior work, the study hypothesizes and finds that new outside rookies—those new to top management and the firm—are associated with higher firm growth than other types of executives. We also find that seasoned outsiders—those with prior TMT experience outside the focal industry—contribute to growth only when the existing TMT has a long tenure. The results suggest that the ability of the TMT to integrate new members varies by executive type and has an important effect on incremental strategic renewal.Managerial summary: Conventional wisdom holds that firms are better off hiring those who can demonstrate prior experience and skill in tasks as close as possible to the job. In the realm of the top management team (TMT), however, we find that many firms benefit from hiring rookies from other firms who are new to the top management team level. These candidates bring useful knowledge of the operations of competitors and other firms, and they are easier to socialize and integrate with the existing team. While more experienced senior leaders may bring valuable strategic knowledge, this study suggests that only top management teams with long shared experience can weather the disruption that they cause to realize the potential benefits. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.