Two prominent theoretical orientations in corporate governance research include the upper echelon perspective (e.g., Hambrick and Mason, 1984), and research examining the impression management behaviors of corporate leaders (e.g., Elsbach, 2006; Westphal and Graebner, 2010). The upper echelon perspective considers how prior managerial experiences influence decision making (Hambrick and Mason, 1984; Cannella Jr., Park, and Lee, 2008; Crossland, Jinyong, Hiller, and Hambrick, 2014); the impression management perspective looks at the organizational-stakeholder interface, considering how corporate leaders can manage the impression of external audiences such as analysts, investors, or regulators (e.g., Salancik and Meindl, 1984; Elsbach, 2006; Zott and Huy, 2007; Westphal and Graebner, 2010; Hiatt and Park, 2013).
While the two bodies of research are both connected in their focus on top management behavior, there has been little consideration of the ways in which managerial experiences can themselves be presented. Upper echelon research takes management experiences as a given, typically using employment histories to capture experiences (e.g., Crossland et al., 2014). In comparison, while the impression management perspective considers the presentation of information to influence audience expectations, this research has focused on presenting organizational activities, with little consideration of how managerial experiences are conveyed.
This article explores possibilities for integrating the perspectives, considering the subtle ways in which managerial experiences can be shaped to meet audience expectations, and the opportunities to enrich the upper echelon literature by considering the influence of how managers may conform to presented personas.