Our Chair is proud to announce the publication of our newest article in one of the leading management journals, the Academy of Management Review. The conceptual paper, which was co-authored by Andreas König, Lorenz Graf-Vlachy, Jon Bundy (from Arizona State University) and Laura Little (from the University of Georgia), addresses the question of how does a Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO’s) level of trait empathy affect his or her management of organizational crises? So far, management scholars have highlighted mostly positive effects of CEOs’ empathy in the emotionally charged context of crises.
The authors combine the emerging critical perspective on empathy with research on upper echelons and crisis management to provide a more balanced portrayal of the influence of CEO empathy on crisis management. Specifically, they argue that, on the one hand, highly empathic CEOs will recognize warning signs more quickly, have access to more crisis-related information, gain greater stakeholder appreciation via displays of compassion, and are more committed to healing the organization’s relational system. On the other hand, such CEOs also may be more predisposed to false alarms, more biased in processing crisis-related information, over-inclined towards apologetic sensegiving, and less committed to repairing the organization’s operational system.
Ultimately, the paper proposes that CEOs’ empathy influences their effectiveness in the various tasks of crisis management in an inverted U-shaped pattern. The theory offers an upper echelons view of organizational crises, particularly by illuminating the roles of empathy and emotions in executives’ crisis management. The new research also introduces a novel, “too-much-of-a-good-thing” perspective on CEO empathy, providing abundant opportunities for future research.
You can download an in-print version of the paper here or under https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/amr.2017.0387