Leader succession and organizational performance: Integrating the common-sense, ritual scapegoating, and vicious-circle succession theories Academic Article uri icon


  • Our study examines the impact of leader succession on organizational performance. We use organizational learning theory and the concept of time compression diseconomies to frame our conceptual arguments. Previous sports-related studies have concluded that between-season succession (ritual scapegoating theory) does not impact team performance, and within-season succession (vicious-circle theory) tends to worsen team performance. We confirm these conclusions. We also argue that it takes time for a new team leader to "take charge", and the taking charge process requires that the team and new leader experience regular-season play together in addition to off-season practice to improve performance in the subsequent season (common-sense theory). Evidence from a 60-year data set from the National Hockey League provides support for our hypotheses. 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • The Leadership Quarterly

author list (cited authors)

  • Rowe, W. G., Cannella, A. A., Rankin, D., & Gorman, D.

citation count

  • 93

complete list of authors

  • Rowe, W Glenn||Cannella, Albert A||Rankin, Debra||Gorman, Doug

publication date

  • April 2005