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Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice by Rakesh Khurana, Nitin Nohria

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WHEN DOES LEADERSHIP MATTER?

A Contingent Opportunities View of CEO Leadership

Noam Wasserman, Bharat Anand, and Nitin Nohria

Introduction

Does it matter who the CEO of a firm is? This simple question has received rather different answers in the literature on leadership. “Conventional” management theorists, to use Thomas’s (1988) term, posit that CEOs can have a significant influence on the performance of their companies. From their perch at the top of an organization, CEOs are able to actively direct which opportunities the firm will pursue (Barnard, 1938), and in turn shape the firm’s strategy, structure, and culture. In contrast, more recently, other scholars—notably organizational ecology researchers—have argued that CEOs are so constrained ...

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