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Administrative Succession and Organizational Performance: The Succession Effect

M. Craig Brown
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 27, No. 1 (Mar., 1982), pp. 1-16
DOI: 10.2307/2392543
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2392543
Page Count: 16
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Administrative Succession and Organizational Performance: The Succession Effect
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Abstract

Conventional wisdom holds that changing leaders will improve organizational performance. In contrast, it has either been argued that, because of its disruptiveness, succession will have a negative impact on organizational effectiveness, or that succession has no causal impact and is better viewed as ritual scapegoating. Analysis of data for 26 teams in the National Football League from 1970-1978 reveals clear support for the scapegoating view of succession. Regressions show that any succession effect is due to the especially poor performance of teams experiencing a change of coaches in mid-season, a finding seemingly consistent with the view that succession is disruptive and produces a slide in performance. However, a more detailed analysis of within-season succession indicates that a dramatic slide in performance leads to one coach's exit, and, under the successor, there is a recovery similar to that in teams that declined steeply but did not dismiss their coaches. The paper concludes with speculation about the broader implications of the results of this investigation.

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