A review of the CEO succession literature and a future research program

Patricia Klarner, Kristin VD Berns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Executive leadership changes are critical turning points for organizations. Over the past five decades, management scholars have generated many insights into the predictors, consequences, and contingencies of CEO succession. We first provide an overview of this research, integrating strategic management, corporate governance, strategic leadership, and organizational behavior research findings into a comprehensive framework. We find that empirical research has frequently adopted an event-based perspective on CEO succession, which is contrary to the practical evidence regarding CEO succession as a continuous process. In the second part of our paper, we develop a future research agenda for the CEO succession process. We specifically address the role of board–CEO collaborations and potential frictions during the CEO succession process. Our suggestions will help researchers gain a better understanding of boards’ governance of executive succession processes. These suggestions also have implications for directors responsible for CEO succession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-108
Number of pages26
JournalThe Academy of Management Perspectives
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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