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Ann Peng, Rebecca Mitchell, and John M. Schaubroeck
In recent years scholars of abusive supervision have expanded the scope of outcomes examined and have advanced new psychological and social processes to account for these and other outcomes. Besides the commonly used relational theories such as justice theory and social exchange theory, recent studies have more frequently drawn from theories about emotion to describe how abusive supervision influences the behavior, attitudes, and well-being of both the victims and the perpetrators. In addition, an increasing number of studies have examined the antecedents of abusive supervision. The studied antecedents include personality, behavioral, and situational characteristics of the supervisors and/or the subordinates. Studies have reported how characteristics of the supervisor and that of the focal victim interact to determining abuse frequency. Formerly postulated outcomes of abusive supervision (e.g., subordinate performance) have also been identified as antecedents of abusive supervision. This points to a need to model dynamic and mutually reciprocal processes between leader abusive behavior and follower responses with longitudinal data. Moreover, extending prior research that has exclusively focused on the victim’s perspective, scholars have started to take the supervisor’s perspective and the lens of third-parties, such as victims’ coworkers, to understand the broad impact of abusive supervision. Finally, a small number of studies have started to model abusive supervision as a multilevel phenomenon. These studies have examined a group aggregated measure of abusive supervision, examining its influence as an antecedent of individual level outcomes and as a moderator of relationships between individuals’ experiences of abusive supervision and personal outcomes. More research could be devoted to establishing the causal effects of abusive supervision and to developing organizational interventions to reduce abusive supervision.
Academic integrity is an interdisciplinary concept that provides the foundation for every aspect and all levels of education. The term evokes strong emotions in teachers, researchers, and students—not least because it is usually associated with negative behaviors. When considering academic integrity, the discussion tends to revolve around cheating, plagiarism, dishonesty, fraud, and other academic malpractice and how best to prevent these behaviors. A more productive approach entails a focus on promoting the positive values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage (International Center for Academic Integrity, 2013) as the intrinsically motivated drivers for ethical academic practice. Academic integrity is much more than “a student issue” and requires commitment from all stakeholders in the academic community, including undergraduate and postgraduate students, teachers, established researchers, senior managers, policymakers, support staff, and administrators.
Tracey J. Riley and Alex C. Yen
Although accounting is typically seen as a numbers-oriented discipline, with an emphasis on quantifying economic events and activity, the nexus of language and accounting, specifically the role of language in communicating corporate accounting results, has received an increasing amount of attention in recent years. This is because quantified accounting results (e.g., earnings per share, sales revenue) are rarely communicated in isolation. Rather, they are usually accompanied by a non-quantitative narrative, such as an earnings press release, a corporate annual report, or the president’s letter, which, along with conference calls and content at corporate websites, we collectively refer to as “accounting narratives.” These narratives allow management to elaborate on and contextualize the financial performance of the company. However, because they are not as extensively regulated as the financial statements and are not standardized, these narratives can also be used by companies for impression-management purposes, to obfuscate (poor) performance and to “spin” the financial results to the companies’ favor.
Research into accounting narratives dates back to 1952 and has focused on a wide variety of features of narratives and on how those features affect financial statement readers’ (most notably, investors’) reactions. The earliest studies focused on accounting narratives’ readability by performing a syntactic analysis to assess the cognitive difficulty of written passages. This line of research has found that accounting narratives are syntactically complex and difficult to read and that management intentionally makes bad news less readable in order to strain the readers’ cognitive processes and lead to lower comprehension of the bad news. In addition to this evidence of obfuscation, researchers have found support for managers engaging in attributional framing, which is the tendency to attribute positive outcomes to actions within the company and negative outcomes to actions external to the company (e.g., the government or the weather) in an effort to influence readers’ perception of good versus bad news. More recently, researchers have found that managers use syntactic (sentence structure), semantic (word meaning), and metasemantic (abstract versus concrete construal) manipulation and make broad stylistic choices such as emphasis, length, and scenario form. In terms of how those features affect the readers of the narratives, readers (most notably, investors) have been shown to respond to length and readability; level of negativity; words pertaining to risk, uncertainty, credibility, commitment, and responsibility; justifications of excuses of poor performance; optimistic and pessimistic tone; vivid versus pallid language; internal versus external attributions; and use of self-references.
Torben Juul Andersen and Carina Antonia Hallin
Contemporary organizations operate under turbulent business conditions and must adapt their strategies to ongoing changes. Sustainable performance can be achieved when the organization engages in interactive processes that link emerging opportunities to forward-looking analytics. But few organizations are able to practice this consistently. Fast processes performed by managers at the frontline respond to ongoing environmental stimuli and slow processes initiated by managers at the center interpret events and reasons about updated strategic actions. Current experiential insights from the fast processes can be aggregated systematically to inform the slow processes of reasoning. When the fast and slow processes interact they can form a dynamic system that adapts organizational activities to changing conditions.
Andy El-Zayaty and Russell Coff
Many discussions of the creation and appropriation of value stop at the firm level. Imperfections in the market allow for a firm to gain competitive advantage, thereby appropriating rents from the market. What has often been overlooked is the continued process of appropriation within firms by parties ranging from shareholders to managers to employees. Porter’s “five forces” model and the resource-based view of the firm laid out the determinants of value creation at the firm level, but it was left to others to explore the onward distribution of that value. Many strategic management and strategic human capital scholars have explored the manner in which employees and managers use their bargaining power vis-à-vis the firm to appropriate value—sometimes in a manner that may not align with the interests of shareholders. In addition, cooperative game theorists provided unique insights into the way in which parties divide firm surplus among each other. Ultimately, the creation of value is merely the beginning of a complex, multiparty process of bargaining and competition for the rights to claim rents.
Steven A. Stewart and Allen C. Amason
Since the earliest days of strategic management research, scholars have sought to measure and model the effects of top managers on organizational performance. A watershed moment in this effort came with the 1984 introduction of Hambrick and Mason’s upper echelon view and their contention that firms are a reflection of their top management teams (TMT). An explosion of research followed and hundreds, if not thousands, of manuscripts have since been published on the subject. While a number of excellent reviews of this extensive literature exist, a relative few have asked questions about the overall state and future of the field. We undertook this assessment in an effort to answer some key questions. Are we still making progress on the big questions that gave rise to the upper echelon view, or have we reached a point of diminishing returns with this stream of research? If we are at an inflection point, what are the issues that should drive future inquiry about top management teams?
Mallory E. Compton and Kenneth J. Meier
Pathologies inherent in democratic political systems have consequences for bureaucracy, and they need to be examined. Limited in time, resources, and expertise, elected officials turn to bureaucratic institutions to carry out policy goals but all too often give public agencies too little support or too few resources to implement them effectively. In response to the challenges imposed by politics, public agencies have sought organizational solutions. Bureaucracies facing shortages of material resources, clear goals, representation of minority interests, or public trust have in recent decades adopted less hierarchical structures, exploited networks and privatization, and taken a representative role. In other words, the evolution of postbureaucratic governance institutions is in part a consequence of political incentives. Efforts to diagnose and resolve many of the shortcomings attributed to bureaucracy therefore require an accounting of the political processes shaping the context in which public managers and bureaucrats operate.
Asli M. Colpan and Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra
Business groups are an organizational model in which collections of legally independent firms bounded together with formal and informal ties use collaborative arrangements to enhance their collective welfare. Among the different varieties of business groups, diversified business groups that exhibit unrelated product diversification under central control, and often containing chains of publicly listed firms, are the most-studied type in the management literature. The reason is that they challenge two traditionally held assumptions. First, broad and especially unrelated diversification have a negative impact on performance, and thus business groups should focus on a narrow scope of related businesses. Second, such diversification is only sustainable in emerging economies in which market and institutional underdevelopment are more common and where business groups can provide a solution to such imperfections. However, a historical perspective indicates that diversified business groups are a long-lived organizational model and are present in emerging and advanced economies, illustrating how business groups adapt to different market and institutional settings. This evolutionary approach also highlights the importance of going beyond diversification when studying business groups and redirecting studies toward the evolution of the group structure, their internal administrative mechanisms, and other strategic actions beyond diversification such as internationalization.
The complexity of modern careers requires personal agency in managing career development and employability capital as personal resources for career success. Individuals’ employability capital also serves as a valuable resource for the sustainable performance of organizations. Individuals’ ability to proactively engage in career self-management behaviors through the use of a comprehensive range of self-regulatory capabilities, known as career metacapacities, contributes to their employability capital. Organizational career development supports initiatives that consider individuals’ proactivity in light of conditions that influence their motivational states, and availability of personal resources helps organizations benefit from individuals who bring information, knowledge, capacities, and relationship networks (i.e., employability capital) into their work that ultimately contribute to the organization’s capability to sustain performance in uncertain, highly competitive business markets. Career development support practices should embrace the individualization of modern-day careers, the need for whole-life management, and the multiple meanings that career success has for individuals.
Nydia MacGregor and Tammy L. Madsen
A substantial volume of research in economic geography, organization theory, and strategy examines the geographic concentration of interconnected firms, industries, and institutions. Theoretical and empirical work has named a host of agglomeration advantages (and disadvantages) with much agreement on the significance of clusters for firms, innovation, and regional growth. The core assertion of this vein of research is that geographically concentrated factors of production create self-reinforcing benefits, yielding increasing returns over time. The types of externalities (or agglomeration economies) generally fall into four categories: specialized labor or inputs, knowledge spillovers, diversity of actors and activity, and localized competition. Arising from multiple sources, each of these externalities attracts new and established firms and skilled workers.
Along with recent advancements in evolution economics, newer research embraces the idea that the agglomeration mechanisms that benefit clusters may evolve over time. While some have considered industry and cluster life-cycle approaches, the complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory provides a well-founded framework for developing a theory of cluster evolution for several reasons. In particular, the content and stages of complex adaptive systems directly connect with those of a cluster, comprising its multiple, evolving dimensions and their interplay over time. Importantly, this view emphasizes that the externalities associated with agglomeration may not have stable effects, and thus, what fosters advantage in a cluster will change as the cluster evolves. Furthermore, by including a cluster’s degree of resilience and ability for renewal, the CAS lens addresses two significant attributes absent from cyclical approaches.
Related research in various disciplines may further contribute to our understanding of cluster evolution. Studies of regional resilience (usually focused on a specific spatial unit rather than its industrial sectors) may correspond to the reorganization phase associated with clusters viewed as complex adaptive systems. In a similar vein, examining the shifting temporal dynamics and development trajectories resulting from discontinuous shocks may explain a cluster’s emergence and ultimate long-term renewal. Finally, the strain of research examining the relationship between policy initiatives and cluster development remains sparse. To offer the greatest theoretical and empirical traction, future research should examine policy outcomes aligned with specific stages of cluster evolution and include the relevant levels and scope of analysis. In sum, there is ample opportunity to further explore the complexities and interactions among firms, industries, networks, and institutions evident across the whole of a cluster’s evolution.
In a new era of corporate governance defined by increasing shareholder empowerment, scrutiny from external stakeholders, and governance failures, there has been a movement toward redefining corporate governance models and the roles of boards. As a result, researchers and practitioners are left wondering what it means to be an effective board, and how a board can operate in the best interests of a firm’s stakeholders in this current environment. Exploring the expanded roles and demands of directors grounded in shareholder and director primacy debates, as well as reviewing theories and contingencies that link corporate boards to task, group, firm, and enterprise-level outcomes, a research agenda is identified that might better identify the parameters of board effectiveness.
Erik E. Lehmann
Corporate governance is a recent concept that encompasses the costs caused by managerial misbehavior. It is concerned with how organizations in general, and corporations in particular, produce value and how that value is distributed among the members of the corporation, its stakeholders. The interrelation of value production and value distribution links the ubiquitous technological aspect (the production of value) with the moral and ethical dimension (the distribution of value). Corporate governance is concerned with this link in general, but more specifically with the moral and ethical dimensions of distributing the generated value among the stakeholders. Value in firms is created by firm-specific investments, and the motivation and coordination of value-enhancing activities and investment is protected by the power concentrated at the pyramidal top of the organization. In modern companies, it is the CEO and the top management who decide how to create value and how to distribute it among the relevant stakeholders. Due to asymmetric information and the imperfect nature of markets and contracts, adverse selection and moral hazard problems occur, where delegated (selected) managers could act in their own interest at the costs of other relevant stakeholders.
Corporate governance can be understood as a two-tailed concept. The first aspect is about identifying the (most) relevant stakeholder(s), separating theory and practice into two different and conflicting streams: the stakeholder value approach and the shareholder value approach. The second aspect of the concept is about providing and analyzing different mechanisms, reducing the costs induced by moral hazard and adverse selection effects, and balancing out the motivation and coordination problems of the relevant stakeholders. Corporate governance is an interdisciplinary concept encompassing academic fields such as finance, economics, accounting, law, taxation, and psychology, among others.
As countries differ according to their institutions (i.e., legal and political systems, norms, and rules), firms differ according to their size, age, dominant shareholders, or industries. Thus, concepts in corporate governance differ along these dimensions as well. And while the underlying characteristics vary in time, continuously or as a result of an exogenous shock, concepts in corporate governance are dynamic and static, offering a challenging field of interest for academics, policymakers, and firm managers.
Margarethe F. Wiersema and Joseph B. Beck
Corporate or product diversification represents a strategic decision. Specifically, it addresses the strategic question regarding in which businesses the firm will compete. A single-business company that expands its strategic scope by adding new businesses becomes a diversified, multibusiness company. The means by which a company expands its strategic scope is by acquiring businesses, investing in the development of new businesses, or both. Similarly, an already diversified firm can reduce its strategic scope by divesting from or closing businesses.
There are two fundamentally different types of corporate diversification strategy, depending on the interrelatedness of the businesses in the company’s portfolio: related diversification and unrelated diversification. Related diversification occurs when the businesses in the company’s portfolio share strategic assets or resources, such as technology, a brand name, or distribution channels. Unrelated diversification occurs when a company’s businesses do not share strategic assets or resources and do not have interrelationships of strategic importance. Companies can pursue both types of diversification simultaneously, and thus have a portfolio of businesses both related and unrelated. In addition to variations in the type of diversification, companies can vary in the extent of their diversification, ranging from business portfolios with very limited diversification to highly diversified portfolios.
Decisions regarding the diversification strategy of a firm represent major strategic scope decisions since they impact the markets and industries in which the company will compete. Companies can increase or reduce their level of diversification for a variety of reasons. Economic motives, for example, include the pursuit of economies of multiproduct scale and scope, whereby per-unit costs may be lowered through the increase in sales volume or other fixed-cost reducing benefits associated with growth through diversification. In addition, companies may diversify for strategic reasons, such as enhancement of capabilities or superior competitive positioning through entry into new product markets. Similarly, economic and strategic reasons can motivate the firm to refocus and reduce its level of diversification when the strategic and economic rationales for being in a particular business are no longer justified.
The performance consequences of corporate diversification can vary, depending on both the extent of the firm’s diversification and the type of diversification. In general, research indicates that high levels of diversification are value-destroying due to the integrative and complexity-associated costs that administering an extremely diversified portfolio imposes on management. Nevertheless, related diversification, where the company shares underlying resources across its business portfolio (e.g., brand, technology, and distribution channels), can lead to higher levels of performance than can unrelated diversification, due to the potential for enhanced profitability from leveraging shared resources. Corporate diversification was a major U.S. business trend in the 1960s. During the 1980s, however, pressure from the capital market for shareholder wealth maximization led to the adoption of strategies whereby many companies refocused their business portfolios and thus reduced their levels of corporate diversification by divesting unrelated businesses in order to concentrate on their predominant or core business.
Michael D. Mumford, Robert Martin, and Samantha N. Elliott
Creative thinking is the basis for innovation in firms. And the need for strategy-relevant innovations has generated a new concern with how people go about solving the kinds of problems that call for creative thought. Although many variables influence people’s ability to provide creative problem solutions, it is assumed the ways in which people work with or process knowledge provides the basis for successful creative problem-solving efforts. Additionally, there has been evidence bearing on the processing activities that contribute to creative problem solving. It is noted that at least eight distinct processing activities are involved in most incidents of creative problem solving: (1) problem definition, (2) information gathering, (3) concept selection, (4) conceptual combination, (5) idea generation, (6) idea evaluation, (7) implementation planning, and (8) adaptive monitoring. There are strategies people employ in effective execution of each of these processes, along with contextual variables that contribute to, or inhibit, effective process execution. Subsequently, there are key variables that operate in the workplace that contribute to, or inhibit, effective execution of these processing operations. These observations, of course, lead to implications for management of innovative efforts in firms.
Kim Cliett Long
E-learning expands options for teaching and learning using technology. This nomenclature has been solidly in use for the last ten years. The expansive and ever fertile frontier of e-learning—a term used interchangeably with distance and online learning—has become standard fare as an educational delivery solution designed to enhance knowledge and performance. Many educational institutions, corporate enterprises and other entities are utilizing web-based teaching and learning methodologies to deliver education either partially or wholly online using electronic platforms. The learning value chain, including management and delivery, has created multimodal systems, content, and processes to increase accessibility, measurability, and cost effectiveness by infusing advanced learning techniques, such as adaptive learning or communities of practice, among students, employee groups, and lifelong learners. It is interesting to note that e-learning encapsulates internet based courseware and all other asynchronous and synchronous learning, as well as other capabilities for supporting learning experiences.
Student success and advancements in technology are now inextricably linked as a result of higher education institutions embracing and offering e-learning options. The absence of direct instructor guidance makes distance learning particularly difficult for some students. Certain students struggle with the lack of guidance inherent in online learning and the requisite need to work independently. In particular, the lack of high touch strategies in e-learning often leads students to drop or fail courses. While some students struggle to remain engaged in technology-enabled learning, technology is often the vehicle for keeping these same students on task. There are a variety of electronic tools designed to augment online learning and keep online learners on task. Podcasts, for example, can be easily downloaded, then played back on a student’s media player or mobile device at a later date. The student is not tied to a computer, which results in a more comprehensive learning experience.
In many cases, e-learning has become a very lucrative and desirable marketplace for higher education institutions. The business case for e-learning is a clarion call for tight integration among business, human resources, and knowledge and performance management. Hence, it is incumbent upon educational institutions to instill approaches that focus on the learner, learning, and improved performance, more so than the tools and technology. Of further importance is the need for higher education institutions to provide stratagems for developing and supporting caring online relationships, individualized student environments, collaboration, communication, and e-learning culture. Ultimately, institutions should measure not only improved business and performance, but also improved student online learning aptitudes (more self-motivated, self-directed, and self-assessed learning).
Richard E. Boyatzis
Emotional intelligence (EI) is used in organizational training, coaching, and graduate schools. Despite its acceptance in practical applications, researchers continue to argue about its validity. EI can be defined “as a constellation of components from within a person that enable self-awareness of and management of his/her emotions, and to be aware of and manage the emotions of others.” EI seems to exist at the performance trait or ability, self-schema and trait, and behavioral levels. Based on this multilevel view, all the conceptualizations of EI and the different measures that result are EI. Research on the behavioral level of EI—its assessment, strengths, psychometric validity, and challenges—complements that on other approaches, which have already been the subject of many academic papers.
There has been an “affective revolution” in organizational behavior since the mid-1990s, focusing initially on moods and affective dispositions. The past decade has seen a further shift toward investigating the complex roles played by discrete emotions in the workplace. Discrete emotions such as fear, anger, boredom, love, gratitude, and pride have their own appraisal antecedents, subjective experiences, and action tendencies that prepare people to respond to their current situation. Emotions have intrapersonal effects on the person experiencing them in terms of attention, motivation, creativity, information processing and judgment, and well-being. Some emotions have characteristic voice tones or facial expressions that serve the interpersonal function of communicating one’s state to interaction partners. For this reason, emotions are integral to social processes in organizations such as leadership, teamwork, negotiation, and customer service. The effects of emotions on behavior can be complex and context-dependent rather than straightforwardly mechanistic. Individuals may regulate the emotions they experience, the extent to which they display what they feel, and the actions they choose in response to how they feel.
Research has tended to focus on negative emotions (e.g., anger or anxiety) and their potential negative effects (e.g., aggression or avoidance), but negative emotions can sometimes have positive consequences. Discrete positive emotions have been relatively ignored in organizational research but feeling and expressing positive emotions often have positive consequences. There is considerable scope for investigating the ways in which specific discrete emotions are experienced, regulated, expressed, and acted upon in organizational life. There may also be a case for intentional efforts by organizations and employees to increase the occurrence of positive emotions at work.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management. Please check back later for the full article.
Since the dawn of artistic pursuits by human beings, the artist has been thought of as having a special sphere of influence for representing feelings, emotions, and human conditions through their art. Fast forward to the early days of arts apprenticeship and education, and we can generally conclude that the domain of arts education prepares artists for such representation of feelings and emotions. But what is missing from arts education are skill sets needed to manage the economic realities of artistic pursuits. This skill gap perhaps gave birth to the starving-artist myth, a notion that has endured since the early 1600s. Passion and desire for artistic expression are considered superior to business and economic considerations. Throw into this situation concern for social justice, ethics, and political invective, and a mix of dichotomies emerges. Also, consider that entrepreneurship is primarily an economic behavior. Some suggest that arts entrepreneurship lacks empirical studies, and thus lacks legitimacy. The concepts presented in this discussion include observations in preparing arts entrepreneurs for success as defined by themselves.
As one of the early developers of arts entrepreneurship curriculum, I was expected to define the domain of arts entrepreneurship. Added to this expectation are my duties as director of the Coleman Fellows Program. This task includes the need for developing effective pedagogical constructs that can cultivate arts entrepreneurship modules and lesson plans across the Coleman Fellows Program. Based on my own entrepreneurial experiences, my non-academic approach to this work is viewed by artists as “commercializing the arts” and seen as a polluter of the purist methodology to arts. My colleagues who teach entrepreneurship label this differently. Some say the approach is creative; others think it pollutes entrepreneurship education. Because of these unexpected but different and sometimes passionate reactions from groups of educators and artists, I started investigating the revenue models of arts-based industries with the hope of bridging these dichotomies. The age-old adage “follow the money” seemed to be a good approach to better understand such reactions.
The key sources of information for this discussion include the Coleman Fellows Program, a nationwide program initiated and supported by the Coleman Foundation, located in Chicago, Illinois. I also rely on 30 interviews with arts faculty and 32 interviews with student artists. Added to these sources of data is my work with the Arts Entrepreneurship Special Interest Group, which I helped create and led for a few years with the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), a member of International Council of Small Business (ICSB). I also include contributions to this field by Linda Essig, publisher of Artivate, the very first journal dedicated to entreprenuership in the arts, and Gary Beckman’s doctoral thesis and his subsequent writings.
Daniel G. Arce and Mary C. Gentile
Giving Voice to Values (GVV) is a rehearsal and case-based approach to business ethics education that is designed to develop moral competence and that emphasizes self-assessment, peer coaching and prescriptive ethics. It is built on the premise that many businesspeople want to act on their values but lack the know-how and experience for doing so. The focus is on action rather than developing ethical awareness or analytical constructs for determining what is right and the epistemology behind knowing that it is right, while acknowledging that existing and well-established approaches to these questions are also important. The GVV rubric for acting on one’s values is based upon the following three questions: (1) What’s at stake? (2) What are the reasons and rationalizations you are trying to counter? and (3) What levers can be used to influence those who disagree? Taken together, the answers to these questions constitute a script for constructing a persuasive argument for effecting values-based change and an action plan for implementation. This approach is based on the idea, supported by research and experience, that pre-scripting and “rehearsal” can encourage action.
GVV is meant to be complementary to traditional approaches to business ethics that focus on the methodology of moral judgment. GVV cases are post-decision-making in that they begin with a presumed right answer and students are invited to engage in the “GVV Thought Experiment,” answering the questions: “What if you were going to act on this values-based position? How could you be effective?” This implies a shift in focus towards values-based action in ways that recognize the pressures of the business world. As a consequence of this shift, GVV addresses fundamental questions about what, to whom, and how business ethics is taught. The answers to these questions have led to widespread adoption of GVV in business schools, universities, corporations, and beyond.
Felice B. Klein, Kevin McSweeney, Cynthia E. Devers, Gerry McNamara, and Spenser Blosser
Scholars have devoted significant attention to understanding the determinants and consequences of executive compensation. Yet, one form of compensation, executive severance agreements, has flown under the radar. Severance agreements specify the expected payments and benefits promised executives, upon voluntary or involuntary termination. Although these agreements are popular among executives, critics continually question their worth. Yet severance agreements potentially offer three important (but less readily recognized) strategic benefits. First, severance agreements are viewed as a means of mitigating the potential risks associated with job changes; thus, they can serve as a recruitment tool to attract top executive talent. Second, because severance agreements guarantee executives previously specified compensation in the event of termination, they can help limit the downside risk naturally risk-averse executives face, facilitating executive-shareholder interest alignment. Third, severance agreements can aid in firm exit, as executives and directors are likely to be more open to termination, in the presence of adequate protection against the downside.
Severance agreements can contain provisions for ten possible termination events. Three events refer to change in control (CIC), which occurs under a change in ownership. These are (1) CIC without termination, (2) CIC with termination without cause, and (3) CIC with termination for cause. Cause is generally defined by events such as felony, fraud, embezzlement, neglect of duties, or violation of noncompete provisions. Additional events include (4) voluntary retirement, (5) resignation without good reason, (6) voluntary termination for good reason, (7) involuntary termination without cause, (8) involuntary termination with cause, (9) death, and (10) disability. Voluntary retirement and resignation without good reason occurs when CEOs either retire or leave under their own volition, and voluntary termination with good reason occurs in response to changes in employment terms (e.g., relocation of headquarters). Involuntary termination refers to termination due to any reason not listed above and is often triggered by unsatisfactory performance.
Although some prior work has addressed the antecedents, consequences, and moderators of severance, the findings from this literature remain unclear, as many of the results are mixed. Future severance scholars have the opportunity to further clarify these relationships by addressing how severance agreements can help firms attract, align the interests of, and facilitate the exit of executives.