THE ROLE OF CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Margaret B. Glick
School of Education
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
Advisor: Thomas J. Chermack
Gene W. Gloeckner
Susan A. Lynham
Jennifer K. Bond
The purpose of the study in thesis was stated as to address the gap in literature on the role of CEO. Research on the role of CEO is outdated, as the theory deduced by Mintzberg in the 1970s has not been refined and updated in recent days. A major goal of the survey research carried out in this thesis was to use the insights provided by CEOs to improve general understanding of the major roles played by CEOs and how they generally allocate their time in various critical functions.
The CEO survey instrument was developed based on 31 roles identified from the literature. The survey was sent to CEOs selected from a purchased database and e-mail was used to contact CEOs. The study focused on three research questions: What is the role of CEO, how CEOs allocate their time to roles, and what new or further roles are indicated by CEOs apart from the 31 mentioned in literature so far.
Full thesis can be downloaded from
What Only the CEO Can Do by A.G. Lafley
Harvard Business Review, MAY 2009
A.G. Lafley was CEO of P&G
In 2004 Drucker said, “The CEO is the link between the Inside that is ‘the organization,’ and the Outside - society, economy, technology, markets, and customers."
The CEO alone can experience the outside at an enterprise level and therefore is responsible for understanding it, interpreting it, and presenting it to inside so that the company can respond in a way that enables it to sustain sales, profit, and shareholder return growth.
The CEO is also accountable for the performance and results of the company— its own goals and also the target, measures and standards of diverse and often competing external stakeholders.
A company will not succeed without a deep understanding of external stakeholders and their competing interests, and how those interests can be reconciled and satisfied with the capabilities and limitations of the organization.
Linking the outside to the inside is one line description of the role of the CEO. The work content can be described as four fundamental tasks. These four tasks were also drawn from Drucker’s observations:
1. Observing, defining and interpreting the relevant and meaningful outside.
2. Answering, time and again, the two-part question, What business are we in and what business are we not in?
3. Balancing current profits with necessary investment in the future (especially investments which are treated as expenses in financial accounting).
4. Shaping the values and standards of the organization (culture maintenance and change).
Updated 12 Sep 2015
First posted 13 Sep 2012