A Multi-Level Analysis of the Upper-Echelons Model

Albert A. Cannella, Tim R. Holcomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The upper-echelons model of Hambrick and Mason ((1984). Academy of Management Review, 9, 193-206) launched a new area of research and provided the first overall theoretical framework for use in understanding how the experiences, backgrounds, and values of senior executives in organizations can influence the decisions that they make. The model is typically assumed to be what Rousseau ((1985). In: B. M. Staw, & L. L. Cumming (Eds), Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 7, pp. 1-37). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press) calls "multi-level," as it describes how both individuals and top management teams (TMTs) make decisions in line with their preferences, biases, and values; the same model is applicable to both individuals and groups. However, the levels issues in the model have never been subjected to rigorous analysis. This chapter juxtaposes levels concepts and theories on the upper-echelons model, in an effort to highlight its strengths as well as its weaknesses. While the majority of researchers use the model to describe team-level decision making, the analysis presented here reveals that the model is inherently individual-level in focus, and several important limitations must be overcome before the model will provide a full explanation of team-level decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-237
Number of pages43
JournalResearch in Multi-Level Issues
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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