Embracing Commitment and Performance: CEOs and Practices Used to Manage Paradox
Preprint, 2008

We tend to assume that great leaders must make difficult choices between two or more conflicting outcomes. In an interview study with 26 CEOs of top American and European companies (incl. IKEA, Campbell Soups, Nokia, H&M), we find that instead of choosing between conflicting outcomes such as long-term strategy or short-term performance drivers, top tier managers argue that their role is to embrace such paradoxes to make both things happen simultaneously. The study identifies five groups of practices that make this possible. Together, they reveal a systematic approach to managerial work at the top, which is seldom found in the literature. By building on the engagement of many in the development of the organization, the practices are important for our understanding of how a CEO facilitates the partaking of many in strategy making. The paper contributes to theory by relating the current findings to the literature on the connection between commitment and performance and on the strategic management literature that focuses on the proliferation of strategy and strategy as practice.


Tobias Fredberg

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Michael Beer

Russell A Eisenstat

Nathaniel Foote

Flemming Norrgren

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy



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