Public Organization Review

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 1-14

First online:

Looking for Their Dick Vermeil: How Prior Performance Influences the Selection Decision

  • Madinah F. HamidullahAffiliated withDepartment of Public Administration and Policy, The University of Georgia Email author 
  • , Vicky M. WilkinsAffiliated withDepartment of Public Administration and Policy, The University of Georgia
  • , Kenneth J. MeierAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, Texas A&M UniversityCardiff Business School, Cardiff University

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When replacing an executive, an organization is faced with the choice of either promoting someone internally or hiring an outsider. Prior research in the private sector supports the contention that poor performing organizations will be adaptive and seek an outsider in hopes of initiating change that will improve performance. Do public organizations behave similarly? We address this question in the context of public education and examine the superintendent hiring decisions in 491 school districts. We find that school boards make sophisticated assessments of the district’s performance and these assessments influence their selection decisions.


Organizational performance Executive replacement Inside/Outside promotion Selection decision Adaptive organizations Managerial succession