The Economic Times: Stuck in the past? New CEOs often try to transfer previous company’s culture

05 Sep 2019
Cultural transfer can be a big problem unless monitored.

Originally found at The Economic Times, by Masoom Gupte

The hope with fresh appointments at the top is that they may bring new perspectives, heralding change and innovation at the company. But a recent study suggests that new leaders often transfer culture from their former jobs and this can “blindside” them into proposing old and ineffective solutions to new problems.

This conclusion comes from a study titled “Stuck in the past? The influence of a leader’s past cultural experience on group culture and positive and negative group deviance,” and co-authored by Dr Yeun Joon Kim at Cambridge Judge Business School. “Leaders’ past cultural experiences colour what they ‘see’ as effective solutions for their groups,” says the study published in the Academy of Management Journal. “Their past cultural solutions often blindside leaders when solving new problems in a new environment in which different performance standards and contingencies make the old solutions obsolete.”

Joon has been quoted on the study and its findings. He said, “The study has clear implications for boards of directors hiring CEOs and for other managers who hire group leaders.” He went on to add, “What worked for a CEO at his or her previous company might be a liability in the circumstances of the new company, so cultural transfer can be a big problem unless monitored and if necessary, resisted by the new firm’s board of directors.”

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Read the original research in Academy of Management Journal

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