Four decades of CEO–TMT interface research: a review inspired by role theory

Dimitrios Georgakakis, Mariano L.M. Heyden, Jana D.R. Oehmichen, Udari I.K. Ekanayake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The CEO-TMT interface, defined as the linkage and interaction between the CEO and other top managers, has received increasing attention from scholars in different disciplines. This stream of research aims to unveil how CEOs and other executives interact with one another, influence each other, and become involved in collective activities that shape the fate of organizations. Yet, despite the burgeoning interest in this area, extant CEO-TMT research is characterized by various and disconnected assumptions about the interfacing roles through which CEOs and TMTs exercise strategic leadership. Drawing on role theory, we review extant CEO-TMT interface research in different disciplines, and systematically organize the various CEO-TMT role assumptions into three role-theory specifications: functionalism, social-interactionism, and structuralism. In taking stock of the three role specifications, we provide a critique of the strengths and boundaries of each, and chart directions toward an integrated ‘multi-role’ understanding of the CEO-TMT interface in strategic leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101354
Number of pages13
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • CEO-TMT interface
  • Chief Executive Officers
  • Role theory
  • Strategic leadership
  • Top management teams

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