Establishing executive sponsorship is an activity that is typically cited as a key success factor in the fields of process improvement and quality management. It is specially emphasized in ISO 9001:2000, the Capability Maturity Model Integration, and Six Sigma. These kinds of programs thrive when the broad workforce adopts them and backs them up, but they can only get to that point through a top-down organizational commitment.
Most corporate and IT initiatives work through executive sponsorship. The team that's charged with selecting a new automated test tool will usually answer to some type of sponsor. Committees put together to explore new market potentials or new product lines will usually operate through the guidance of a sponsor. The people who help promote the annual blood drive do so with the help of an executive sponsor. If there's a need for a special effort, if it's going to cost money, if it's going to require dedicated resources, the company will probably want to manage that, and that is typically done by appointing an executive sponsor. The same holds true for process improvement programs.
The executive sponsor is the arm of management that steps up to the plate to shepherd the program into the organization, to give the program the backing and the visibility it needs, and to intervene when necessary to make sure that the program's design and implementation activities are progressing along acceptable lines.
You could make a logical argument ...