The role of executive symbolism in advancing new strategic themes in organizations: A social influence perspective

Donald C. Hambrick, Jeffrey B. Lovelace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Contributing to the sensegiving literature and organizational change literature, we set forth a theory for predicting the relative effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of executive symbolism in advancing new strategic themes (specific new priorities) in organizations. Unpacking the concept of executive symbolism and describing why executive actions carry symbolic significance, we primarily assess the "theme-aligned symbolic action"-an executive action undertaken with the intention of sending a message in support of some new theme. We draw from social influence theory to develop an integrated set of propositions for predicting members' reactions, or affective responses, to such actions. The predictive factors include attributes of the action itself, the reputation of the executive, and predispositions of respective members to the theme. As an outgrowth of this analysis, we conclude that theme-aligned symbols, no matter how artful, will almost always be ineffective in eliciting positive reactions from members who are antagonistic toward the theme. In turn, we introduce the concept of the "theme-muting symbol"-a symbolic action intended to minimize the prominence or apparent implications of a new theme-and we place this concept in the social influence framework as well. We discuss practical implications and present an agenda for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-131
Number of pages22
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Fingerprint

Social influence
Symbol
Organizational change
Integrated
Sensegiving
Agenda
Factors

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

Cite this

@article{4cab60fa81374f03a5ff1df63c04d482,
title = "The role of executive symbolism in advancing new strategic themes in organizations: A social influence perspective",
abstract = "Contributing to the sensegiving literature and organizational change literature, we set forth a theory for predicting the relative effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of executive symbolism in advancing new strategic themes (specific new priorities) in organizations. Unpacking the concept of executive symbolism and describing why executive actions carry symbolic significance, we primarily assess the {"}theme-aligned symbolic action{"}-an executive action undertaken with the intention of sending a message in support of some new theme. We draw from social influence theory to develop an integrated set of propositions for predicting members' reactions, or affective responses, to such actions. The predictive factors include attributes of the action itself, the reputation of the executive, and predispositions of respective members to the theme. As an outgrowth of this analysis, we conclude that theme-aligned symbols, no matter how artful, will almost always be ineffective in eliciting positive reactions from members who are antagonistic toward the theme. In turn, we introduce the concept of the {"}theme-muting symbol{"}-a symbolic action intended to minimize the prominence or apparent implications of a new theme-and we place this concept in the social influence framework as well. We discuss practical implications and present an agenda for future research.",
author = "Hambrick, {Donald C.} and Lovelace, {Jeffrey B.}",
year = "2018",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.5465/amr.2015.0190",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "43",
pages = "110--131",
journal = "Academy of Management Review",
issn = "0363-7425",
publisher = "Academy of Management",
number = "1",

}

The role of executive symbolism in advancing new strategic themes in organizations : A social influence perspective. / Hambrick, Donald C.; Lovelace, Jeffrey B.

In: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 43, No. 1, 01.01.2018, p. 110-131.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The role of executive symbolism in advancing new strategic themes in organizations

T2 - A social influence perspective

AU - Hambrick, Donald C.

AU - Lovelace, Jeffrey B.

PY - 2018/1/1

Y1 - 2018/1/1

N2 - Contributing to the sensegiving literature and organizational change literature, we set forth a theory for predicting the relative effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of executive symbolism in advancing new strategic themes (specific new priorities) in organizations. Unpacking the concept of executive symbolism and describing why executive actions carry symbolic significance, we primarily assess the "theme-aligned symbolic action"-an executive action undertaken with the intention of sending a message in support of some new theme. We draw from social influence theory to develop an integrated set of propositions for predicting members' reactions, or affective responses, to such actions. The predictive factors include attributes of the action itself, the reputation of the executive, and predispositions of respective members to the theme. As an outgrowth of this analysis, we conclude that theme-aligned symbols, no matter how artful, will almost always be ineffective in eliciting positive reactions from members who are antagonistic toward the theme. In turn, we introduce the concept of the "theme-muting symbol"-a symbolic action intended to minimize the prominence or apparent implications of a new theme-and we place this concept in the social influence framework as well. We discuss practical implications and present an agenda for future research.

AB - Contributing to the sensegiving literature and organizational change literature, we set forth a theory for predicting the relative effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of executive symbolism in advancing new strategic themes (specific new priorities) in organizations. Unpacking the concept of executive symbolism and describing why executive actions carry symbolic significance, we primarily assess the "theme-aligned symbolic action"-an executive action undertaken with the intention of sending a message in support of some new theme. We draw from social influence theory to develop an integrated set of propositions for predicting members' reactions, or affective responses, to such actions. The predictive factors include attributes of the action itself, the reputation of the executive, and predispositions of respective members to the theme. As an outgrowth of this analysis, we conclude that theme-aligned symbols, no matter how artful, will almost always be ineffective in eliciting positive reactions from members who are antagonistic toward the theme. In turn, we introduce the concept of the "theme-muting symbol"-a symbolic action intended to minimize the prominence or apparent implications of a new theme-and we place this concept in the social influence framework as well. We discuss practical implications and present an agenda for future research.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85040740063&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85040740063&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.5465/amr.2015.0190

DO - 10.5465/amr.2015.0190

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85040740063

VL - 43

SP - 110

EP - 131

JO - Academy of Management Review

JF - Academy of Management Review

SN - 0363-7425

IS - 1

ER -