Unpacking functional experience complementarities in senior leaders’ influences on CSR strategy: a CEO–top management team approach

Marko Reimer, Sebastiaan Van Doorn, Mariano L.M. Heyden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we examine the influence of senior leadership on firms’ corporate social responsibility (CSR). We integrate upper echelons research that has investigated either the influence of the CEO or the top management team (TMT) on CSR. We contend that functional experience complementarity between CEOs and TMTs in formulating and implementing CSR strategy may underlie differentiated strategies in CSR. We find that when CEOs who have predominant experience in output functions are complemented by TMTs with a lower proportion of members who have experience in output functions, there is a pronounced effect on the community, product, and diversity dimensions of CSR. In turn, when output-oriented CEOs are complemented by output-oriented TMTs, we observe an effect on the employee relations dimension of CSR. Interestingly, we find no influence of CEO-TMT complementarity on the environment dimension of CSR. In general, our empirical results support the relevance of the interaction between CEOs and their TMTs in defining their firms’ CSR profile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977-995
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • CEOs
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Functional background
  • Senior leadership
  • Top management teams
  • Upper echelons theory

Cite this