An analysis of the work roles of chief executive officers in small furniture manufacturing firms

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This dissertation reports an analysis of the work roles of chief executive officers in small furniture manufacturing firms. Certain roles are operational - nature, while others are strategic in nature. The basic research question being addressed is: which work roles, if any, are perceived as more important to the position of a CEO in small furniture manufacturing firms? The subjects of this study consisted of ten CEOs of wood furniture manufacturing firms located in the state of Virginia.

The roles examined in this study were those described by Hemphill in his research on 93 executives from five manufacturing firms. The approach used in this study to model the judgment of the CEOs is called "Brunswiks Lens Model." This lens model approach provides a quantified, descriptive summary of the way an individual weighs and combines information.

The research design utilized in this study is a fixed 2⁸ factorial ANOVA. Two basic analytical techniques were employed: correlation and ANOVA. An analysis of variance was performed on each CEO's set of responses. All ten CEOs showed that there are significant differences in the relative importance of the eight roles being examined.

Fifteen operational hypotheses were tested for significance (p < .10) for each CEO. All 15 of the operational Hypotheses were rejected by seven of the CEOs. This indicated the importance they place on the strategically oriented roles. The remaining three CEOs perceived certain operational roles as being of primary importance.

Three potential explanations have been proffered to account for this preference toward strategically oriented roles by these CEOs. First, the static nature of the technology utilized in the wood furniture manufacturing industry may allow the CEO to focus more on strategic factors facing the firm. Second, the heavy competition within this industry may "force" the CEO to manage the firm strategically if they are to be successful. Third, every CEO who had a preference for strategically oriented roles were CEOs of their firm for a minimum of ten years.

Thus, there appears to be support to suggest that the relative importance of the operationally and strategically oriented work roles of CEOs may be largely contingent upon the technology utilized, competitive structure of the industry and the tenure of the CEO.