Leadership and Organizational Culture: Linking CEO Characteristics to Cultural Values

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to empirically examine organizational culture theorists’ assertions about the linkages between leadership and the cultures that emerge in the organizations they lead. Specific hypotheses were developed and tested regarding relationships between chief executive officers’ (CEO’s) personality traits, and the cultural values that are shared among their organization’s members.

Design/Methodology/Approach

Thirty-two CEOs completed measures of the Big-Five personality traits and personal values. A total of 467 employees across the 32 organizations completed a competing values measure of organizational culture.

Findings

Results indicate support for several hypothesized relationships between CEO personality and cultural values. Exploratory analyses indicated that several CEO personal values were related to culture values.

Implications

Organizations need to seriously consider the “fit” between the current or desired organizational culture and CEO characteristics. Organizations attempting to change fundamental aspects of its functioning may need significant behavioral—or personnel—changes at the top of the organization in order to achieve those changes.

Originality/Value

This is the first empirical study to establish a link between specific CEO characteristics and the cultural values of their organizations. This study provides evidence that CEO characteristics are felt throughout the organization by impacting the norms that sanction or discourage member behavior and decision making, and the patterns of behavior and interaction among members.

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Correspondence to Tomas R. Giberson.

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Received and reviewed by former editor, George Neuman.

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Giberson, T.R., Resick, C.J., Dickson, M.W. et al. Leadership and Organizational Culture: Linking CEO Characteristics to Cultural Values. J Bus Psychol 24, 123–137 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-009-9109-1

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Keywords

  • CEO characteristics
  • Organizational culture
  • Leadership
  • ASA theory
  • Multi-level research