Executives' Prior Employment Ties to Interlocking Directors and Interfirm Mobility Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper explores how executives prior employment ties to interlocking directors, or those who hold additional board seats or executive positions at outside firms, influence individual executive interfirm mobility. As organizational boundary spanners, interlocking directors may be able to influence executive outcomes both within and outside of executives current firms. But given natural constraints on internal promotion for executives, we suggest most executives will tend to leverage ties to interlocking directors to access external opportunities, as manifested by movement to outside firms. Analysis of interfirm mobility among a sample of Standard & Poors 1500 executives between 2000 and 2014 offer support for this idea. We find a positive association between individual executives prior employment ties to interlocking directors and their hazard of movement to outside firms, including to the other firms where these directors serve. At the same time, we argue and find that the strength of this latter relationship will further depend on directors competing motivations owing to their specific positions in the focal and interlocking firms. Whereas holding a lead position on the focal firms board (i.e., as chairperson or lead independent director) weakens this relationship, holding the position of chief executive officer in the interlocking firm strengthens it. Our theory and findings highlight the unique and important role of interlocking directors in executive interfirm mobility and, in doing so, contribute novel insights regarding how ties to boundary spanners can influence individual outcomes for those to whom they are linked.Supplemental Material: The e-companion is available at https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2022.1638 .

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Harrison, J. S., Boivie, S., & Withers, M. C.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • July 2023