A Multi-Level Analysis of the Upper-Echelons Model

Research in Multi-Level Issues, Volume 4, 197-237, 2005

Posted: 20 Jan 2016

Date Written: January 19, 2016


The upper-echelons model of Hambrick and Mason (1984) 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 importantly impact the decisions that they make. The model is typically assumed to be what Rousseau (1985) calls “multilevel”, as it describes how both individuals and top management teams (TMTs) make decisions in line with their preferences, biases, and values and the same model describes both individuals and groups. However, the levels issues in the model have never been subjected to rigorous analysis. In this chapter, we juxtapose levels concepts and theories on the upper-echelons model, to highlight its strengths as well as its weaknesses. While the majority of researchers use the model to describe team-level decision making, our analysis 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.

Keywords: Top Management Teams, Upper Echelon Theory, Multilevel Theory

Suggested Citation

Cannella, Albert A. and Holcomb, Tim R., A Multi-Level Analysis of the Upper-Echelons Model (January 19, 2016). Research in Multi-Level Issues, Volume 4, 197-237, 2005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2718145

Albert A. Cannella (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University ( email )

430 Wehner
College Station, TX 77843-4218
United States

Tim R. Holcomb

Miami University ( email )

Farmer School of Business
800 E. High Street, 2075 FSB / MSC1148
Oxford, OH Ohio 45056
United States
5135293665 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://fsb.miamioh.edu/

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