Fragmentation and the Other Problems CEOs Have with Their Top Management Teams

by Donald Hambrick



Deficiencies within a top management team (TMT) can gravely impair a firm's performance and vitality. Based on interviews with 23 CEOs of major companies in the United States and Europe, this article identifies the five major problems CEOs have with their TMTs: inadequate capabilities of a single executive, a common team-wide shortcoming, harmful internal rivalries, groupthink, and fragmentation. Fragmentation, the most critical problem, is the case of the team that is not a team at all, but rather a mere constellation of senior executives pursuing their own agendas, with a minimum of collaboration or exchange. Fragmentation often stems from success, and a fragmented team may operate adequately under conditions of stability. But, in the face of a major environmental shift affecting the whole firm, the fragmented team is slow, acts in a piecemeal fashion, and is generally maladaptive. The article offers suggestions for overcoming the problem of TMT fragmentation.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

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