Two important themes of strategy research over the last ten years have been (a) the role of
(Bantel 1993; Hambrick and Mason 1984; Lewin and Stephens 1994) and(b) the
of making strategic decisions (Hart and Banbury 1994; Lu and Heard 1995;Rajagopalan et al. 1993). Since Hambrick and Mason’s (1984) influential paper on “upperechelons”, much emphasis has been placed on the role and significance of top management (i.e.the CEO and/or top management team). This research stream has mainly focused on theinfluence of top management on: (i) corporate strategies (Miller and Toulouse 1986;Finkelstein and Hambrick 1990), (ii) innovation
(Bantel and Jackson 1989), (iii) performance(Haleblian and Finkelstein 1993; Norburn and Birley 1988; Eisenhardt and Schoonhoven 1990;Smith et al. 1994), (iv) organisational structure (Miller and Droge 1986), and (v) planningformality (Bantel 1993).There has been little empirical work on the link between these two themes, ie topmanagement (TM) and the process of making SDs. As Rajagopalan et al. (1993, pp 364) stressin a recent review: "
research relating organisational factors such as .... top management team(TMT) characteristics to strategic decision processes is limited
". Others have argued alongsimilar lines (Bantel 1993; Huff and Reger 1987; Lewin and Stephens 1994; Smith et al. 1994).Moreover, as we discuss shortly, the few studies which have been done on the links betweenTM characteristics and SDM processes have produced mixed results. The influence of TMtherefore remains unclear. If upper echelons theory is to advance our knowledge of the role of the CEO and the TMT we need a better understanding of their impact (if any) on SDMprocesses and the underlying characteristics which are important (Smith et al. 1994).The study reported here aims to clarify some important aspects of this influence. The mainquestion it explores is: “Does the CEO and/or the TMT influence the making of actual SDs,and if so is it the CEO or the TMT which has most influence on the process?”. A secondary