Helping other CEOs avoid bad press: social exchange and impression management support among CEOs in communications with journalists

Westphal, James D., Park, Sun Hyun, McDonald, Michael L. and Hayward, Mathew L. A. (2012) Helping other CEOs avoid bad press: social exchange and impression management support among CEOs in communications with journalists. Administrative Science Quarterly, 57 2: 217-268. doi:10.1177/0001839212453267

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Author Westphal, James D.
Park, Sun Hyun
McDonald, Michael L.
Hayward, Mathew L. A.
Title Helping other CEOs avoid bad press: social exchange and impression management support among CEOs in communications with journalists
Journal name Administrative Science Quarterly   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0001-8392
1930-3815
Publication date 2012-06
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0001839212453267
Open Access Status
Volume 57
Issue 2
Start page 217
End page 268
Total pages 52
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
Publisher Sage Publications
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract In this study, we examine the determinants and consequences of impression management (IM) support in communications between CEOs and journalists, whereby CEOs of other firms provide positive statements about a focal CEO’s leadership and strategy and/or external attributions for low performance at the focal CEO’s firm. Drawing from social exchange theory, our theoretical perspective suggests how IM support may result from norms of reciprocity among corporate leaders. We consider the potential for direct and generalized reciprocity in the provision of IM support, including generalized reciprocity in which CEOs who received IM support previously pay the support forward to another third-party CEO, and a second form of generalized reciprocity in which CEOs reciprocate IM support to fellow CEOs whom they believe have given similar support to other CEOs in the past. We also draw from the social psychological literature on persuasion to suggest why IM support for another CEO may have a more positive influence on the tenor of journalists’ coverage about the firm’s leadership than impression management by the CEO about his or her own leadership and strategy. We test our hypotheses with data from large and mid-sized public U.S. companies from 1999 to 2007, including original survey data from a large sample of CEOs and journalists. The results supported our hypotheses, and additional findings suggested that the apparent effects of impression management by leaders and staff about their own firms following a negative earnings surprise may be partially attributable to the effects of IM support.
Keyword Corporate governance
Top management
Upper echelons theory
Impression management
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 17 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 16 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 12 Mar 2013, 16:10:58 EST by Karen Morgan on behalf of UQ Business School